PBA: Former Toyota player Boy Clariño passes away

As confirmed by former teammate Gil Cortez, Boy Clariño, one of the PBA's first import stoppers, passed away. From Cortez's Facebook page
By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—On the same day Yoyong Martires' passing was confirmed, another PBA legend bid goodbye to the basketball world.

Boy Clariño, another pioneering player in the league, passed away at the age of 68.

Gil Cortez, Clariño's former teammate at Toyota, confirmed the news.

“It’s a tragic and sad day, indeed. After learning of Yoyong Martires’ passing, here comes now the news that another legend, my friend, companion, and Toyota teammate, Aurelio 'Boy' Clariño, leaving us,” the 1976 Rookie of the Year said via Facebook.

While not exactly as stellar as the Tamaraws' Big 3 of Robert Jaworski, Mon Fernandez, and Francis Arnaiz back then, Clariño, a six-foot-two forward out of Adamson, was known for his tough defense to the point that he was tasked to stymie the opposing imports despite giving up a few inches in height.

Clariño would not hesitate too to get feisty if things went awry as he confronted opposing players several times during his career just to stand up for his teammates.

"I definitely was one of his beneficiaries as he made sure to protect me at all times," Cortez further said.

Clariño was involved in the infamous Crispa-Toyota opening night brawl of 1977 that prompted the cops back then to send players from the rival clubs to jail the day after.

While Clariño was known as an enforcer, Cortez bared that he was a funnyman off the court.

"What many won't know is that Boy is actually a child trapped inside a man's body. He was a mischievous soul, always ready with a prank or a joke. The photo below says it all. Like an imp - a mischievous child ready to pounce on an unwilling victim, Boy was such a fun person to be with," Cortez said, showing a picture of Clariño photobombing him during a magazine shoot.

Clariño would later join UTex and the Great Taste franchise before ending up with Gilbey's Gin in 1981.

At the team now known as Ginebra, Clariño joined forces with younger brother Alex, a member of the Philippines' 1978 FIBA World Cup team.

Boy Clariño called it a career after the 1981 season at just 26 years old, but he would be part of two PBA Legends games during the 1991 and 2003 All-Star Weekends.

The 2003 legends game was well known as the Crispa-Toyota reunion game.

Clariño was not around, though, during the old Toyota franchise's 50th-anniversary celebration last year due to health issues and also missed future reunion events involving Toyota and Crispa players.

"Au revoir, Boy! We missed you in our Toyota reunions and we will forever miss you now that you're in basketball heaven," Cortez's social media statement concluded.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno