Famous Filipino, Robert Jaworski
a young Jawo
Philippine basketball superstar and legend, Robert Salazar Jaworski is a well-known personality in the Philippines not only because of his long, illustrious career as a professional basketball player and coach, but also because of his achievements as a former senator for the country.
Born March 8, 1946 to an American Polish father (hence his not-so-common surname for a Filipino) and a Filipina mother, “Bobby” or “Sonny”, his nickname, grew up and started his basketball career in the country’s capital city, Manila.
His career as an amateur basketball player:
- Played for his college team, the University of the East’s Red Warriors and became UAAP champions in 1966 and 1967.
- In 1966, he was a member of the Philippine national basketball team which competed in the Asian Games held in Bangkok, Thailand.
- In 1967, he was part of the champion ABC team that played in Seoul, South Korea which beat the host country for the championship. This victory of the Philippines earned it the right to represent Asia in the 1968 Olympics held in Mexico.
- In 1973, he was again part of the Philippine national team that won the ABC championships held this time in Manila, thereby earning the right to play in the 1974 World Championships held in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Jawo, the playing coach
His professional basketball career:
- When the PBA was formed in 1975, now nicknamed "Jawo", Jaworski played the role as leader for the the original Toyota team. He remained with this team for nine years, from 1975 to 1983, all the while making him darling of the crowd with his passion for the game and his rough, aggressive plays. He was Most Valuable Player in 1978, when he was at his playing best, with per game averages of 20 points, 12 assists and 9 rebounds.
- When Toyota disbanded in 1983, Jaworski joined his new team, the La Tondena franchise’s Gilbey’s Gin (later named Ginebra). This team later on became the most popular team in Philippine basketball history.
- In 1985, Jaworski took over the coaching chores of the Ginebra team, while playing at the same time. He was the first ever, and the most successful, playing coach of a squad in the PBA.
- As playing coach, one controversial move Jaworski made was taking in his son, Robert , Jr (nicknamed Dudut) 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 share of playing minutes in his short basketball career.
Jaworski's last game in the PBA was in March 1997 in a game held in DumagueteCity, a southern Philippine island. He had minimal minutes as player in that game but when the final buzzer ended, he became the record owner for being the oldest player, at 50 years old, to play in the PBA.
- He ended his career as a playing coach with 4 won championships over his 2-decade stint (hence his being referred to as the Living Legend of Philippine basketball) in the PBA.
Jaworski remained as coach of the team until April 1998, when he tried his luck at politics and ran in the national elections in May of the same year. His fame landed him the job as Senator of the Republic.