Jun 26, 2020

Looking back at Turo Valenzona's legendary tales

BEFORE the likes of Tab Baldwin, Todd Purves and Mark Dickel came and did the job of being an active coaching consultant, there's the legend of Turo Valenzona, practicing it as early as the 70s in the collegiate before establishing himself as a champion coach in the Philippine Basketball Association.

Valenzona had that arrangement with the Far Eastern U Tamaraws and the San Sebastian Stags while attending duties in the PBA where he enjoyed great success with the Tanduay Rhum Masters in mid-80s.

"Actually, nasa YCO pa ako (playing in the MICAA), nag-coaching consultant na ako sa FEU," said Valenzona during his An Eternity of Basketball web chat with Charlie Cuna, Noel Zarate and Sid Ventura.

"Nagtratrabaho kasi ako sa FEU, tapos nawalan sila ng coach, nairekomenda ako na hawakan ang FEU. Champion agad, tapos prinotesta ako ni Baby (then UE coach Baby Dalupan). So ginawa akong consultant, pero ako pa rin talaga ang may hawak sa team," added Valenzona, recalling his early coaching days.

Then there was his time winning championships with Solid Mills in the MICAA while still with the U/Tex team in the PBA.

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And thus he became among the early coaches doing dual or even triple duties, sitting on team benches in the pros and in the semi-pros or the collegiate, and winning championships left and right.

But he himself led the crafting of guidelines restricting coaches from holding the same position in the other leagues with the formation of the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines where he was the founding president.

As a leader, he had also served a term as councilor in the City of Manila.

It was quite a career marked by championships won in the MICAA, UAAP, NCAA, PABL, PBA and international stage with the national team.

A number of PBA Hall of Famers played under his tutelage, including Ramon Fernandez, Robert Jaworski, Freddie Hubalde and Norman Black.

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But what's easily the biggest highlight of his PBA coaching was a string of titles he won for Tanduay (three) before it folded up in 1987.

"Umuwi kasi yung isang Elizalde na hindi mahilig sa basketball," said Valenzona on the end of the Tanduay era with the lineup led by Fernandez, Freddie Hubalde, Willie Generalao, Padim Israel, Jayvee Yango, Ely Capacio and Onchie dela Cruz.

He said he hardly had a problem handling the biggest stars or any player.
In the pros, Valenzona had also taken the rein at Gilbey's Gin and Hills Bros., and worked as consultant with Pop Cola.

"Wala kasing masamang tinapay sa akin. Yung mga salbahe kinakaibigan ko. Pero sabi ko sa loob ng court, ako ang siga," said Valenzona.

"Noong araw, di naman nila ako pwedeng agrabyaduhin; marami din akong kalokohan," added Valenzona, a karate practitioner who trained with the likes of Roberto and Rolando Gonzales.

"Kahit malaki ka, di ka uubra sa akin. Di mo ako pwedeng lokohin, may paglalagyan ka." (SB)