Manila, Nov. 4, 2001 - (STAR) by Joaquin M. Henson - In 1999, the National Basketball Hall of Fame Foundation ó headed by executive director, former cager and Bukidnon Gov. Jose Zubiri ó welcomed its first batch of inductees.

Carlos Loyzaga, Ambrosio Padilla, Fely and Gabby Fajardo, Charlie Borck, Tony Genato, Jacinto Ciria-Cruz, Primitivo Martinez, Ramoncito Campos, Ed Ocampo and Narciso Bernardo were the pioneer Hall of Famers.

Additionally, the Hall honored seven individuals with Lifetime Achievement Awards for their contributions to Philippine basketball ó Don Manolo Elizalde, Leo Prieto, Danny Floro, Col. Julian Malonso, Herminio Silva, Dionisio (Chito) Calvo, and Gonzalo (Lito) Puyat.

Last year, the Hall opened its doors to a second batch of inductees ó Rafael Hechanova, Lauro Mumar, Antonio (Pocholo) Martinez, and Francisco Vestil. Lifetime Achievement Awards were given to Valentin (Tito) Eduque and Virgilio (Baby) Dalupan.

It wasnít easy picking the four inductees of the second batch. There were 29 nominees in the original list. The candidates were later pruned to 15 then nine before the final selection was made.

Under the Foundationís guidelines, each nominee must have been retired at least 10 years, must have been an outstanding player in his time, and must be of good moral character. * * * According to Malonso ó who painstakingly researches the credentials of each nominee, heís not sure if the Hall will conduct enshrinement rites this year. Thereís no word from either Gov. Zubiri or Ronald Ayad who was in charge of organizing the ceremonies the last two years.

If the Foundation plans to stage the third induction late this year or early the next ó as Malonso hopes, the Board of Trustees may be calling for nominees soon. The Board, incidentally, is made up of Manolo Lopez, Fernando Zobel de Ayala, Hechanova, Eduque, Teddy Benigno, Jun Bernardino, Dalupan, Carlos Velez, Eduardo Lim, and Zubiri.

Malonso says if heís asked to nominate just one person for the third batch, itíll be Lim. "Heís a hands-down choice," adds Malonso. "I canít think of a more deserving Hall of Famer."

Lim, 71, played for the Philippine team at the Olympics in Helsinki (1952) and Melbourne (1956). He also saw action for the national squad that captured the gold medal at the Asian Games in Manila (1954) and Tokyo (1958). Lim was on the Philippine team that took ninth place at the 1958 World Championships in Chile.

A hard-nosed guard, Lim played three years for San Beda in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The Red Lions won back-to-back NCAA titles and the 1952 National Open crown with Lim in the lineup.

Lim went on to star for YCO as the Painters strung up seven straight National Open titles from 1954 to 1960 under coach Prieto and later, Eduque. In 1956, Lim played on the Philippine All-Stars squad that toured Tokyo with Skip Guinto as coach.

Limís basketball credentials are enviable. He stood out as a collegian, as an amateur commercial star, and as a national player. Not too many hoopsters can claim such an accomplishment. Those who can are either in the Hall of Fame or should be. * * * Malonso says that after basketball, Lim became a successful businessman ó a model for todayís millionaire pros who may be wondering what to do when their playing days are over.

In 1981, Lim received a Certificate of Recognition from the Bureau of Internal Revenue as one of the top 500 individual taxpayers. He has served as president and chairman of the Makati Stock Exchange and since 1995, as chairman emeritus of the Philippine Stock Exchange.

"Letís give credit where credit is due," says Malonso. "Eddie shouldíve been inducted earlier. But itís not too late. I only hope the Foundation doesnít forget its commitment to honor the legends of basketball and there are many. As our No. 1 spectator sport, basketball deserves special attention because it has produced so many of our heroes. The Hall of Fame is an inspiration to all players, coaches, trainers, and fans."

Zubiri personally picked up the tab for staging the first two induction rites. There were no sponsors because as Zubiri noted, the Foundation is not keen on the idea of commercializing the prestigious enshrinement ceremonies. Zubiri has made it his mission to honor the countryís hoops heroes through the Hall of Fame and deserves the admiration of all basketball fans for his unflinching devotion to the sport we all love.

Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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