FROM a Rizal Memorial Tennis Center pulot boy to becoming a national basketball player and a champion basketball coach.
That's the saga of PBA pioneer player Turo Valenzona who later on turned to a decorated coach with three championships won with the Tanduay Rhum Masters in the 80s.
Valenzona pointed to his exposure, as a growing boy, at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex as the key to him embracing sports and becoming a pro player with a stint with U/Tex in the PBA's early years.
"Batang Leveriza kasi ako, gala sa Rizal Memorial kaya halos lahat ng sports doon eh nalaro ko," said Valenzona in An Eternity of Basketball web chat with Charlie Cuna, Noel Zarate and Sid Ventura. "Pulot boy ako sa tennis center at pagkatapos nilalaro ko lahat from baseball, swimming, track and field.
Only at 5-9, Valenzona made it to big time basketball more because of his athleticism.
"Mataas akong tumalon, kahit papaano may shooting, at may depensa," said Valenzona as to his ticket to landing a spot in the FEU team in the UAAP and later in the celebrated YCO team in the old MICAA.
As a deft and cunning ball distributor, he made the national team, seeing action in the 1964 Pre-Olympic Basketball Tournament in Yokohama, Japan with Sonny Ocampo, Manuel Jocson, Jun Arazas, Boy Marquez, Ciso Bernardo, Ed Pacheco, Felix Flores, Sonny Reyes, Elias Tolentino, Alberto Reynoso and Edgardo Roque.
Towards the end of his playing career, Valenzona was among the players brought by U/Tex from the MICAA to the PBA in 1975.
A champion player in the collegiate and in MICAA, he also became a champion in the PBA as a coach when he took over Orly Castelo to handle the Tanduay team led by Ramon Fernandez, Freddie Hubalde, JV Yango, Ely Capacio, Willie Generalao and Onchie dela Cruz.
A coach who has won titles in all levels in Philippine basketball - collegiate, semi pro and pro, Valenzona is not yet done as, at 77, he's still active in being a coaching consultant.(SB)