THERE’S life after basketball. PBA legend Emerito “Emer” Legaspi is one good example.
A mainstay of the famed Toyota Tamaraws in the PBA, Legaspi said life on and off the basketball court is very good to him.
“I misses basketball a lot. But as we all know, there’s really life after basketball,” said Legaspi during the 10th “Usapang Sports on Air” by the Tabloids Organization in Philippine Sports (TOPS) via Zoom yesterday.
Now 66, Legaspi said basketball is very good to him and his family.
My wife and I married early. I was 20 and she was 18. So I worked very hard. Fortunately, I was able to save a lot before I retired,” said Legaspi, who also worked at the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) for 32 years.
The 5-11 Legaspi, who won seven PBA titles as a member of Toyota from 1977 up to its disbandment in 1983, said basketball also enabled him to develop long-lasting friendships with fellow players.
“Madami akong naging kaibigan. Lahat naman ng mga naging teammates ko sa Toyota, like Robert Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Francis Arnaiz and Abe King, were very supportive. Madami silang ibinibigay na advise,” recalled Legaspi, who is best remembered as a sharpshooting wingman from his collegiate days with the University of the East in the UAAP in 1974 and 1975 up to the Crown Motors in the MICAA in 1976.
“Pero ang naging pinaka-close ko sa lahat si Danny Florencio, na nakakausap ko pa kahit after our retirement. Naging best friend ko pa sya,”added Legaspi, who also holds the distinction as the first MVP-Rookie of the Year winner while playing for Crown Motors in MICAA in 1976.
Legaspi said PBA players today are very fortunate.
“Dati ang pinakamalaking sweldo namin nun around P8,000. Maliit lang talaga ang sweldo namin nun. Ngayon talagang malalaki na. Yun iba may half million pa. Sabi nga ng ibang mga kasama ko, kung ngayon kami nag-laro, mas asenso siguro kami,” said Legaspi.
“But I have no regrets in life. Kung ano yun ibinigay sa akin ng Diyos, nagpapasalamat na ako,” explained Legaspi, who also spends most of his time now at home.
“Para akong Jack of All Trade sa bahay. Lahat ginagawa ko. Mahilig din akong mag-alaga ng halaman.”
Asked about any plan to become a coach, Legaspi did not rule out the possibility.
“Actually, I was playing coach when I was working at PAGCOR. Madami din kaming sinasalihang tounament, like yung sa mga government leagues,” recalled Legaspi.
Actually, Legaspi’s star first shone when he was recruited by coach Nat Canson to play for Toyota’s farm team, Crown Motors, in the MICAA in 1976.
Then Toyota coach Dante Silverio elevated Legaspi, King and Pablo Javier from Crown Motors to Toyota midway through the 1977 season to try to end Crispa’s six-conference dominance in the PBA.