Milo BEST Center founder Nic Jorge passes away

Milo BEST Center founder Nic Jorge passes away

Rocky Chua/Runner Rocky (file photo)
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA--Nic Jorge, the pillar of modern day grassroots basketball, passed away on Saturday at age 78.

Jorge founded the Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training (BEST) Center, which has become the stepping stone for many of today's local basketball stars even before Milo absorbed it into its Summer Sports Clinics.

Jorge began his coaching stint at a young age of 21 while still playing for UP in the UAAP during the 1960's.

He eventually made it a full-time job, and his first major highlight was when he coached the Philippine team in the 1978 FIBA World Cup in Quezon City, the last time the Philippines participated in the said event before qualifying again in 2014.

It was after his national team stint that Jorge decided to create the BEST Center.

He eventually returned to the Fighting Maroons' camp in the mid 1990's and led the team to the Final 4 in 1997, the last time it happened before Bo Perasol steered them to their current title contender status in the past two seasons.

"We will continue to admire and remember Mr. Jorge's contribution to the Fighting Maroons and to the Philippine basketball," UP said in a statement.

He also had a coaching stint with Mapua in the NCAA.

While he is more known in the amateur ranks, he also delved into coaching in the PBA.

Jorge's PBA stint began after Galleon Shipping Corporation tapped him as head coach for its newly built club, which took over from Filmanbank, for the 1980 season.

The Shippers finished respectably in the Open (10-8) and All-Filipino Conferences (6-6), but the club missed out on the semifinal rounds of both tournaments and also failed to qualify for the Invitationals.

The Rodolfo Cuenca-owned franchise, which was renamed as the CDCP Road Builders, also went 10-8 in the Open Conference and 6-6 in the present day Philippine Cup in 1981, but like the previous year, the team failed to make the playoffs, eventually leading to its disbanding after the season.

Jorge returned to the PBA after he was signed by Manhattan for the 1983 season, but following a dismal performance in the Philippine Cup and a bad start in the Reinforced Conference, he was replaced by Glenn McDonald, who actually starred for the club's predecessor U/Tex.

He is also among the founding members of the SBP and served as well as the secretary general of its predecessor, the Basketball Association of the Philippines.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno

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