PFF head recalls hoops days with UP, almost PBA career with Mariwasa

Photo from the Philippine Football Federation
by Drew Malihan

MANILA - It was not uncommon during the fifties to seventies to have collegiate athletes play dual sports in the UAAP. Ed Ocampo did it. Eduardo Pacheco did it.

Philippine Football Federation President Nonong Araneta was no exception to the practice.

He bared the fact that he almost made it to a commercial basketball club's first team in the "Cross Over Podcast" with Cedelf Tupas.

"I was taken by my coach in UAAP, si Fely Fajardo, noong 1974, he told me, I want you to be part of the farm team of Mariwasa," Araneta said, who played both college hoops and football for the UP Fighting Maroons in the early 70's.

Mariwasa was then a part of the Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association (MICAA), a multi-sports competition participated by various companies and corporations, with it's basketball team one of the best teams during the league's heydays.

Araneta, who played point guard and wearing number 8 for the Maroons, even bared that he was even good at stealing the opponent's ball possession as well as leading the fastbreak, thanks to his trainings in football.

Nonong hoped of joining the team's practice, and eventually making it to the first team.

"So I go to the practice, sa Xavier pa noon e. That was 1974, 75 na. That time sa Mariwasa, yung mga players noon sila Cisco Oliver," he said, mentioning Jun Papa and Danny Florencio as his practice-mates.

He said that it was easy for players to decide where to play as there was no lottery draft back then, and MICAA was still considered as amateur despite being the country's premier basketball league.

Araneta even stated that he has already a Mariwasa Honda uniform for the MICAA Invitational in 1975, when things went on a sharp curve.

"That was the time the MICAA owners decided to get away from BAP (Basketball Association of the Philippine) and put up PBA. So hindi natuloy yung MICAA Invitational. They (the original nine PBA teams) went straight to the PBA already," said the PFF head.

He was then asked by his coach in UP if he wanted to go straight to the pro ranks, in which the then-21 year old Araneta said, “Sir, tapusin ko muna yung pag-aaral ko sa UP.”

Araneta, then a Engineering student in Diliman, even stated that playing pro basketball in the early days won't earn him much salary.

"I was receiving 300 pesos noon e para lang doon sa practice allowance, given every month," he said. "That time yung ano (salary of a professional basketball player) was 600, 700, So ang sabi ko, anyway, I have to finish my school."

But when asked if he'll be a better basketball player or a football player, Nonong gave a simple answer.

"Of course I think I’m a better football player."

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