Robert Jaworski
Robert Salazar Jaworski (born March 8, 1946 in Baguio City
Baguio City
The City of Baguio is a highly urbanized city in northern Luzon in the Philippines. Baguio City was established by Americans in 1900 at the site of an Ibaloi village known as Kafagway...

, Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

), also known as Sonny Jaworski, Bobby Jaworski, Robert Jaworski, Sr. or simply Jawo, is a former Philippine senator
Senate of the Philippines
The Senate of the Philippines is the upper chamber of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines, the Congress of the Philippines...

, basketball coach and Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association
Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association
The Manila Industrial and Commercial Athletic Association is a defunct sports association which existed from 1938 to 1981. It is best known for its basketball league for amateur players....

 (MICAA) and PBA
Philippine Basketball Association
The Philippine Basketball Association , is a men's professional basketball league in the Philippines composed of 10 company-branded franchised teams. It is the first and oldest professional basketball league in Asia and the second oldest in the world after the NBA...

Basketball is a team sport in which two teams of five players try to score points by throwing or "shooting" a ball through the top of a basketball hoop while following a set of rules...


Known as The Big J and called The Living Legend during his playing days, Jaworski was a former playing coach—the first ever in the PBA in 1985—for Ginebra San Miguel
Barangay Ginebra Kings
The Barangay Ginebra Kings is a professional basketball team of the Philippine Basketball Association founded in 1979 and owned by the Ginebra San Miguel, Inc., a subsidiary of the San Miguel Corporation...

. In 2000 he was honored as one of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players of all time.

Amateur career

Born to a Polish American
Polish American
A Polish American , is a citizen of the United States of Polish descent. There are an estimated 10 million Polish Americans, representing about 3.2% of the population of the United States...

 father and a Filipino
Filipino people
The Filipino people or Filipinos are an Austronesian ethnic group native to the islands of the Philippines. There are about 92 million Filipinos in the Philippines, and about 11 million living outside the Philippines ....

 mother in Baguio, Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

, Jaworski grew up in the streets of Pandacan in Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

. Jaworski began to gain fame when he started playing basketball for the University of the East
University of the East
The University of the East is a private nonsectarian university located in University Belt Area, district of Sampaloc, Manila, Philippines. The university was founded in 1946 as a coeducational institution...

's Red Warriors
UE Red Warriors
The UE Red Warriors is the men's varsity team of the University of the East in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines. The women's varsity team is called the Amazons, while the junior varsity team is called the Junior Warriors .-About UE:University of the East is one of the eight...

. In 1966, Jaworski towed the Recto-based school to the UAAP championship in the 1966 and 1967 championships. Because of his outstanding accomplishment with UE, he was first labeled "Big Hands" by sportscaster Willie Hernandez describing the large palms he possessed and how easy it was for him to clutch the ball with a single hand.

In 1966, he was part of the national team that represented the country in the Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand. The year after, he was part of the champion ABC team that played in Seoul, South Korea, beating the host country led by shooting guard Shin Dong Pa. Jaworski and Edgardo Ocampo
Edgardo Ocampo
Edgardo L. Ocampo, also known as Ed Ocampo and Eddie Ocampo, was a former Filipino basketball player and head coach. Ocampo was born in Pampanga, Philippines. He played college ball for the Ateneo de Manila University, where he led the team to two championships in 1957 and 1958...

 were responsible for stopping Shin in that finals game. Because of this victory, the Philippines earned the right to represent Asia in the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico. He was also part of the national team that won the 1973 staging of the ABC held at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Manila
Manila is the capital of the Philippines. It is one of the sixteen cities forming Metro Manila.Manila is located on the eastern shores of Manila Bay and is bordered by Navotas and Caloocan to the north, Quezon City to the northeast, San Juan and Mandaluyong to the east, Makati on the southeast,...

, thereby earning the right to play in the 1974 World Championships held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Pilo Pumaren recruited Jaworski who was about to enroll in FEU in 1963. Jaworski played for UE in 1964 and was the second highest scorer. He (with another UE star player, Nat Canson) played for Baby Dalupan's Crispa as guest player in the MICAA of 1966. Jaworski together with Narciso Bernardo were named as members of the 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation.

He then played for Elizalde-owned Yco Painters under Coach Caloy Loyzaga in 1967 national Seniors' Nat. Invitation (YCO regained the titles) and transferred to Meralco in 1968 but was not able to play in the MICAA due to lack of release papers.

His first MVP was during the Presidential CUP of 1970. He was mentioned in the Basketball History of the Philippines (by Boni Escoda) as the best Filipino player in the MICAA from 1971-74 by topping all the rest with an Player's All-around Value of 35.7.

He almost died in a critical fall off Yutivo's Casimiro Santos on January 6, 1971 (first Filipino MICAA).

He moved to play for the Meralco Reddywatts in 1970, a team considered as Crispa's arch rivals in the MICAA. However, in 1971 he and Big Boy Renoso were banned for life by the BAP for assaulting two basketball officials, Eriberto Cruz and Jose Obias, who were making a series of bad calls favoring the Crispa Floro team. Meralco team was behind 65-50 against the Redmanizers. Meralco disbanded the team in 1972. The two sure shoo-ins for the RP team to the 1972 Olympics missed the national team for the first time in their lives.

Owing to the immense talent that the two cagers possessed,they were reinstated in 1973 and played for Meralco only in an exhibition match versus the Japanese national team which they won.

They went back to Meralco and later on teamed up in the national team for the 1973 ABC. Jaworski was the lead guard of that team alongside Francis Arnaiz, Ramon "Tito" (later called "Mon") Fernandez, Reynoso and William "Bogs" Adornado. Other players in that team included Rogelio "Tembong" Melencio, David "Dave" Regullano, Rosalio "Yoyong" Martirez, Manuel "Manny" Paner, Alberto "Abet" Guidaben, Jaime "Jimmy" Mariano and Ricardo "Joy" Cleofas.

It was also around this time when the nickname "Big J" was given to him, resembling the "Big O" tag given to Oscar Robertson who Jaworski played like.

They, with other Meralco players, Tino Reynoso (died in 2008), Fort Acuña (committed suicide in 1981), Francis Arnaiz and Orly Bauson were taken by the Silverio-owned company Komatsu Comets-(later became Toyota) and was responsible for giving a couple of championships in the MICAA. Jaworski became a court general and led the Toyota to the 1973 MICAA title. Reynoso, Jaworski and Armaiz made it to the 1973 and 1974 RP team that regained the ABC crown and went to the 1974 World Basketball.

When the PBA was formed in 1975, Jaworski was part of the original core of Toyota players who donned the Comets uniform at the inception of the league. Jaworski had for his original teammates names like Arnaiz, Reynoso, Fernandez, Reynoso's younger brother Cristino (Tino), Rodolfo "Ompong" Segura, Oscar Rocha, Joaquin "Jake" Rojas, and Orlando "Orly" Bauzon.


Jaworski was part of Toyota for nine seasons, from 1975 until its disbandment at the end of the 1983 season. He was the acknowledged leader of the Toyota squad which had many fiery matches with their rival, the Crispa Redmanizers. Together with Francis Arnaiz and Ramon Fernandez, they formed the troika of Toyota's vaunted offense.

He was a major player in Toyota's nine championships and was named Most Valuable Player in 1978. Jaworski's MVP performance may arguably be considered as the most dominating ever in one season after he averaged 20 points, 12 assists and close to nine rebounds per game. This was done despite the presence of hulking imports with no height limit - imports he played alongside and against with. The closest that would compete for domination would be Ramon Fernandez's scintillating 1984 season for Beer Hausen where "El Presidente" averaged 27 points, 15 boards and 9.9 assists per game. The difference though was that Jaworski led his Toyota team to two championships that season (the Open and the AFC) while Fernandez failed to bag a title in 1984.

He was also the first point guard to achieve 1000 offensive and 2000 defensive rebounds. He is also the PBA's All Time Leader in Assists.

In 1967 Jaworski and veteran internationalist and Asia's best forward, Narciso Bernardo were named as members of the Mythical Five.


When Toyota disbanded at the end of the 1983 season, the team was sold to Basic Holdings, Inc., the company that owns Asia Brewery. Jaworski balked at the idea of joining Beer Hausen, the brand name of Basic Holdings after describing what he felt was a sale done without giving due respect to the personalities involved. Jaworski described the sale as a 'farce,' and that players like him should not be sold "por kilo." At that time, Beer Hausen was intent on making Fernandez as the franchise player of the team with Jaworski relegated in the background. Eventually, then PBA president Carlos "Honeyboy" Palanca III made a decision that was the most controversial and history-making move in the PBA. Palanca, owner of La Tondeña, Inc. which owns Gilbey's Gin (later Ginebra San Miguel) in the PBA, decided to take in Jaworski and best buddy Arnaiz to the team. This marked the cornerstone in making Ginebra arguably the most popular team in Philippine basketball history with Jaworski at the forefront.

Jaworski and Arnaiz turned the moribund franchise into a competitive one almost overnight when in the first conference of the 1984 season, the All Filipino, he led the team to a runnerup finish against powerhouse Crispa. Gilbey's Gin was then led by Arturo "Turo" Valenzona, a former nemesis of Jaworski from their MICAA days. A power struggle was already ensuing thereby leading to the breakup of the Valenzona-Jaworski partnership at the start of the 1985 season. Jaworski took over as playing coach of Ginebra San Miguel while Valenzona went on limbo before latching up with the Tanduay Rhum Makers in the 1986 season.

The Big J's first championship as a playing coach came in the 1986 Open Conference when he, alongside super imports Michael Hackett and Billy Ray Bates
Billy Ray Bates
Billy Ray Bates is a retired American professional basketball player. Bates played shooting guard at McAdams High in Mississippi and attended Kentucky State University....

, dominated the entire conference to win the championship finals at the expense of the Manila Beer team, then led by former Crispa players Abet Guidaben (who was traded from Tanduay vice Fernandez) and Atoy Co, alongside imports Michael Young and Harold Keeling.

In Game 4 of that Best of Seven series, Jaworski played the entire game that needed two extra overtime periods to beat Manila Beer 145-135, thereby taking a commanding 3-1 lead. Jaworski was 40 years old at that time and yet became a PBA record holder for being the local who played the longest in one game. Jaworski's wedding godson, Zandro "Jun" Limpot eventually would break that record while playing for the Sta. Lucia Realtors as a rookie in 1993 by playing 60 minutes in a triple OT victory against SMB. Paradoxically, Jaworski owns the PBA record for playing the shortest time in a PBA game, at one second. In a game against the Alaska Milkmen in 1996 and behind by two points with one second in that game, the Big J fielded himself to handle the inbound. While the inbound was successful, the team failed to convert this into a basket and lost the game.

In 1988, Jaworski finally won his first and only All Filipino championship in a controversy-ridden championship at the expense of the rookie team Purefoods Hotdogs, led by Ramon Fernandez who also coached the team in the previous (Open) conference before relinquishing the job to Cris Calilan early in the All Filipino conference. Jaworski and Fernandez were involved in a running feud dating back when Toyota disbanded in 1983 and this became the climax of their rift. In Game 1 of that finals, Anejo Rum 65 upended Purefoods to gain initial lead in the series. Purefoods owner Jaime Zobel De Ayala and president Renato Buhain publicly accused Fernandez of dropping Game 1 and ordered his benching for the entire series. Because of this controversy, Anejo Rum went on to win the series, 3-1, including the deciding Game 4 where Jaworski became best player of the game - topscoring for his team with 28 points.

In 1989, Jaworski and Fernandez eventually reconciled, ending a long feud. Ironically, it was Baby Dalupan, coach of their arch rival Crispa team that made it possible. Dalupan, then coaching the Veterans team of Jaworski and Fernandez in the 1989 All Star Game against the Rookies and Sophomore team, encouraged the two to shake hands after the game where both of them led to victory by two points, 132-130. In the final 4 seconds of that game, Jaworski inbounded the ball and gave the pass to Fernandez who streaked past Benjie Paras and made a twisting "elegant" shot for the two point win.

The reconciliation didn't turn out to be for a show though as Jaworski, after being appointed national team coach by the BAP, selected Fernandez in the team to represent the Philippines in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing, China. Fernandez was among 12 players personally chosen by Jaworski to lead the charge for the team - others included Alvin Patrimonio, Allan Caidic, Avelino "Samboy" Lim, Yves Dignadice, Hector Calma, Venancio "Benjie" Paras, Ronnie Magsanoc, Zaldy Realubit and the Big J's players with Anejo - Dante Gonzalgo, Chito Loyzaga and Rey Cuenco. This team salvaged the silver medal against host China but not after giving the Chinese a good fight in the finals, losing 90-76.

In 1991, Jaworski won his third title at the expense of Formula Shell in Game 7 of the Open Conference. In that deciding game, Jaworski inbounded from the endline to Rudy Distrito with 4 seconds remaining. Distrito made a difficult, twisting, off-balanced and falling shot over the outstretched arms of Paras to pull off a two point win and to the delight of millions of Ginebra fans watching the game. Jaworski ended up once more as the best player of that game with 13 points, 7 rebounds and 8 feeds in an all-around effort not common for a 45 year old man. This marked the first time in the history of the PBA that a team came back from a 3-1 deficit to win the championship.

From 1992 to 1995, Ginebra suffered a drought owing to budgetary constraints experienced by the franchise. Jaworski belabored with marginal players and washed-up veterans in trying to earn respectability during this period. In 1995, a PBA record was established when the Big J took in his eldest son Robert, Jr. (Dudut)
Robert Jaworski, Jr.
Robert Jaworski, Jr. is a Filipino politician and former basketball player.-Early Life:Robert "Dodot" Jaworski, Jr. was born on October 14, 1971 is an ex-politician in the Philippines. He is former Representative of the Lone District of Pasig City. He was elected in the 2004 election...

, in the second round of the rookie draft, making this the only time when a father and son played for the same team. However, the two never got to play together as Jaworski contented himself coaching the team while Dudut got his few minutes as a starter.

It was in 1996 when the breakthrough came in for Ginebra, now called Ginebra Na! After years of savoring for super rookie Marlou Aquino, he finally got the 6'9 beanpole as top draft pick of 1996. He also got Bal David from the free agent ranks after the latter displayed capability as a point guard when he and Aquino led the national team to the gold medal in the 1995 SEA Games. David was also the celebrated point guard of the PBL, leading the Stag team to twin championships in 1995. But 1996 was Alaska's year - and the grandslam was accomplished with Gordon's Gin at the losing end in the 3rd and final conference. In 1997 though, Jaworski finally earned his 4th jewel, mentoring the team to the 1997 Commissioner's Cup championship at the expense of the Alaska Milkmen. The team won in 6 games, including a 126-94 rout in the final game.

Jaworski remained as coach of the team until April 1998 when he announced his intention of running for the Philippine Senate in May that year. Jaworski wounded up 8th overall in the Senate race, making him one of the few cagers to become a Senator of the Republic - following the footsteps of Ambrosio Padilla
Ambrosio Padilla
Ambrosio Bibby Padilla was a former Filipino basketball player and former elected member of the Senate of the Philippines. He was one of the most important figures in the Asian basketball development.Padilla was born as the eighth of eleven children of Dr. Nicanor Padilla and Ysabel Bibby...

 and Freddie Webb. Fernandez tried to run for the Senate in the 1995 elections but wounded up 19th overall.

After being proclaimed Senator, Jaworski turned over the coaching chores to his long-time assistant Quirino "Rino" Salazar while taking a leave of absence from the basketball scene. But in 1999, a controversy erupted when Ginebra owner Eduardo "Danding" Cojuangco, Jr. announced the promotion of Allan Caidic as playing assistant coach of Jaworski in Ginebra. The Big J didn't take this well and resigned from his position as head coach after feeling insulted of not being informed about it beforehand. Salazar took over and later on handed the reins to Caidic when he had to migrate to Alaska and join his family.

Jaworski's last game in the PBA was in March 1997 in a game held at Dumaguete City. He did not play much in that game but owns the record for being the oldest player ever to play in the PBA at 50 years old. This on top of being acknowledged as the league's most popular player ever and the icon of Philippine basketball for several years.

2003 Crispa-Toyota exhibition

In 2003, after 23 years of giving Philippine basketball fans scintillating performances, he once more thrilled the public when the fabled Crispa-Toyota rivalry was relived in a historic reunion match on May 30, 2003 that played to a packed Araneta Coliseum. The match did not fail to disappoint as the game was tantalizingly close until the dying seconds of the game when Jaworski, reprising his old role, sank a three pointer from atop the arc from an assist by Fernandez to give his old team one last triumph over their old nemesis.This one last act on the basketball hardcourt cemented his legendary status in the hearts and minds of Filipino basketball fans.

Political career

Jaworski ran for Senator
Senate of the Philippines
The Senate of the Philippines is the upper chamber of the bicameral legislature of the Philippines, the Congress of the Philippines...

 during the 1998 national elections
Philippine general election, 1998
The senatorial election was held in the Philippines on May 11, 1998. The two main competing coalitions in the senatorial election were the Lakas-NUCD-UMDP and the Laban ng Makabayang Masang Pilipino -led coalition composed of the Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino , Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino , the...

 as an independent candidate, which he won. Due to this, he was forced to leave the coaching chores to Ginebra assistant Rino Salazar. After a dispute with the new officials at Ginebra's mother company, San Miguel Corporation
San Miguel Corporation
Established in 1890 as a brewery, San Miguel Corporation is Southeast Asia's largest publicly listed food, beverage and packaging company with over 17,000 employees in over 100 major facilities throughout the Asia-Pacific....

, Jaworski quit his duties as head coach and concentrated more on his political duties.

Jaworski was Chairman of Economic Affairs, Trade and Commerce Committee and was also a member of the Games and Amusement and Sports Committee.

Among the 300 or so bills he has authored or co-authored, he is most proud of eventual laws that:
  • declared the Mt. Kitanglad Range in the province of Bukidnon a protected area;
  • established the Northern Sierra Madre Mountain Range in Isabela as protected area;
  • established the Batanes Group of Islands as protected area;
  • established Mt. Kanla-On as protected area; and, to the consternation of logging companies,
  • regulated the ownership, possession and sale of chainsaws. Jaworski the senator also introduced legislation that protects the country’s national marine sanctuaries and filed a bill imposing strict penalties on oil pollution damage on Philippine waters.

He co-authored the Clean Air Act and the Solid Waste Management Act.

In 2004, Jaworski lost running for re-election as senator.

PBA Return

The Philippine Daily Inquirer
Philippine Daily Inquirer
The Philippine Daily Inquirer, popularly known as the Inquirer, is the most widely read broadsheet newspaper in the Philippines, with a daily circulation of 260,000 copies. It is one of the Philippines' newspapers of record...

 and the Manila Times
Manila Times
The Manila Times is the oldest existing English language newspaper in the Philippines. It is published daily by The Manila Times Publishing Corp. with editorial and administrative offices at 371 A...

 reported on February 13, 2007 of Jaworski's possible return in the PBA as coach for either the Air21 Express or the Talk 'N Text Phone Pals for the 2007 PBA Fiesta Conference
2007 PBA Fiesta Conference
-Barangay Ginebra-San Miguel series:-Talk 'N Text-Air21 series:-Red Bull-Talk 'N Text series:-Alaska-San Miguel series:-Third-place playoff:-Finals:Prior to Game 1, Sandwich performed "Laban kung Laban," the TV theme song of the PBA....

 but declined to accept the offer since talks stalled before any contract offer was made.

After the tournament, talks resurfaced again between Jaworski and the Air21 management. But in several newspaper articles, it was said that both parties reportedly had agreed in principle with the Living Legend expected to make a decision upon the offer made by the team.

However, with the resignation of Noli Eala
Noli Eala
Jose Emmanuel M. Eala, better known as Noli Eala, was the sixth commissioner of the Philippine Basketball Association from 2003 to 2007. Before he became the commissioner of the league, he was a play-by-play commentator of Viva-Vintage Sports, which broadcasts the PBA Games, from the early 1990s...

 as league commissioner, Jaworski is one of the names mentioned as replacements for the said post although no offer has been made.

In the end though, Jaworski did not accept either offer.

PBA career

  • Most Valuable Player in 1978
  • Mythical First Team Selection in 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1981 and 1986
  • Mythical Second Team Selection in 1985 and 1988
  • All Defensive Team in 1985 and 1988
  • Four time PBA All-Star
  • Won four championship as a playing coach in 1986 Open Conference, 1988 All-Filipino Conference, 1991 First Conference and 1997 Commissioner's Cup all with the Ginebra franchise
  • Coached the 1990 PBA All-Star Veterans, 1991 PBA All-Star Dark Team, 1992 PBA All-Star North Team, 1996 PBA All-Star Rookie/Sophomore/Juniors, and 1997 PBA All-Star Veterans
  • Finished his career with 5,825 career assists, 605 more than the second-running total of Ramon Fernandez.
  • PBA Hall of Fame Class of 2005


  • Member, 1966 Asian Games
  • Member, 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation (Champions)
  • Member, 1968 Olympic Games
  • Member, 1969 Asian Basketball Confederation (Third Place)
  • Member, team captain 1971 Asian Basketball Confederation (Second Place)
  • Member, 1973 Asian Basketball Confederation (Champions),
  • Member, 1974 World Championship
  • Member, team captain, 1974 Asian Games
  • Head Coach, 1990 Asian Games (Silver Medal)

Jaworski was the team captain of the 1971 team (2nd placer in the 1971 ABC in Tokyo) and 1974 RP team form the Asian Games (4th place)

External links

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