Atoy Co: ‘Jaworski was an ordinary player, had no trademark move’
For legions of PBA fans, Robert Jaworski was – and still is – a demigod, one of the greatest of all time. However, for longtime rival Atoy Co, he was just an ordinary Jawo.
Co called his contemporary, whom he faced numerous times during the fabled Crispa-Toyota rivalry, an “average player” in a recent episode of the An Eternity of Basketball podcast of Charlie Cuna, Sid Ventura, and Noel Zarate Tuesday evening.
It wasn’t his first time to call Jaworski average, as he just reaffirmed his comments that appeared in the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players coffee table book published 20 years ago.
The full quote from that book read like this:
“As a player, Sonny is ordinary, walang specialty. It’s his heart, his spirit, that matters. And his physical structure. Dati ang laro niya, kung hindi rebound, assist. During the latter part of his career na lang siya natutong mag-shoot. Kaya tumagal ang laro ni Sonny dahil sa laki ng puso niya. Ang nakikita ng team niya sa kanya ‘yung leadership.
“Siguro maraming magagalit sa akin, or siguro they would say I’m wrong, pero ordinaryong player siya para sa akin. I don’t have anything against him, it’s just what I think. But he’s got a big heart, big spirit and he’s a very disciplined player. Kaya nga tumagal siyang player,” he then added.
When Cuna brought up the remarks during the interview, Co nodded his head and said he still felt the same way.
“Anong ‘do everything’? Wala nga siyang fadeaway eh. Sorry ah, pero he doesn’t score that much. Di ba? Si Jaworski more on the authority. Siya nagdadala ng laro. Kung kailan niya ipapasa, kailan niya idr-dribble, siya yung nagdadala. Parang siya yung pinaka-point guard talaga yung pinakalaro niya,” opined the 1979 PBA MVP.
One of Co’s reasons for calling Jaworski just an average player was that he did not have a trademark move, unlike Ramon Fernandez who had the “elegant shot,” Allan Caidic who had incredible shooting prowess, or Samboy Lim who had gravity-defying moves
“Ang trademark noon, mangarate bago ka tumira,” Co said in jest, which caused the hosts to guffaw. “Bam! Grabe pa naman ang laki ng kamay noon.”
“Pero kidding aside, wala naman siyang trademark eh. Sa akin, average kasi siya. Layup, meron, paminsan-minsan, tumitira sa labas, ish-shoot. Pero hinahanapan ko siya ng trademark na tira,” added the former Crispa star.
Co also shared a conversation he had with Jaworski during one of their games which makes him laugh to this day.
“My word against his word. Dinidepensahan ko siya. Sabi niya, ‘Kami naman! Panalunin niyo naman kami.’ Na-shock ako eh. Sabi ko ‘pagalingan lang tayo!’ recalled Co.
Although Co claimed that Jaworski did not have any signature moves on offense, he said that his defense was probably his calling card.
“Actually, si Sonny, magaling dumipensa sa baba. Pero pag nakaangat ka na, ang pinaka-depensa niya, uuslian ka ng paa. Kaya tinawag na ‘Paa’ yun eh. Sa matatandang player, mga ka-era nila, ang tawag sa kanya ‘Paa’ eh. Kasi sa laki naman talaga ng paa ni Sonny Jaworski, 14 ata yun. Six-footer lang pero 14 ang paa o 16?” he recalled.
“Pero once kay Sonny, tumalon ka, hindi ka niya hahabulin sa taas eh. Hahabulin niya, hihilahin niya yung paa. Aanuhin niya ang paa sa ilalim. Kaya pag nailang ka, todas ka.”
Co gave an instance when Jaworski used his dangerous brand of defense against him.
“Wala pang three points noon pero binitawan ko sa may three points yun na halos, pa-running shot. Tinira ko. Basta di ko maalala kung may three points na noon,” recollected the now 68-year-old.
“Pak! Tinira ko, binitawan ko. Pagbaba ko, sumabit yung paa ko sa paa niya. Buti, hindi ako na-sprain. Pero binagsak ko katawan ko, tumihaya ako. Habang tumitihaya akong ganoon, nakatingin ako doon sa bola. Eh na-shoot, sabi ko, ‘O ano? Ano? Na-shoot!'” he recalled while laughing.
The two are no strangers to each other, being protagonists in the first and perhaps the biggest PBA rivalry ever. Despite that, the “Fortune Cookie” said there was no bad blood between him and the “Big J.”
“Hanggang sa court lang yun. Respetado ko si lolo. Respetado ko yun. Hindi [kami galit sa isa’t isa],” Co said.— Source: Philip Matel / tv5.espn.com