There’s no one better than Dalupan

Twenty two years after he retired, one has yet to figure out why  Virgilio “Baby” Dalupan was such a good basketball coach. Even Tim Cone, the man who tied the “Maestro’s 15-title conquest in the professional Philippine Basketball Association, confessed Dalupan is the greatest coach local basketball has produced.

Coach Baby Dalupan
Cone even suggested that the “Babe” could be the winningest coach in the world in any sport for his total 52  championships won, saying “I have yet to see a coach in any sport who have won that many titles.”

Indeed, no other coach in the world—in basketball or any other sport—an beat that record set by Dalupan, which, according to Cone, speaks for itself, adding that had Baby decided to continue coaching after handling the Purefoods Hotdogs to his last crown, he could have emerged victorious several more times.

Forty years of a coaching career that yielded 20 championships in the collegiate ranks for the University of the East, including 12 in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines, two in the National Collegiate Athletic Association for alma mater Ateneo and six national inter-Collegiate, 16 in the amateur commercial ranks—Manila Inter Commercial Athletic Association Open, MICAA All-Filipino, National Seniors, National Open, President’s Cup, Tournament of Champions, National invitational and Palarong Pilipino—and 15 in the PBA, including the first ever Grand Slam in 1976.

Add one in the international arena (Pesta Sukan Sports Festival in Singapore) to make a total 52.

Baby, who is now 90 years old and son of University of the East founder, Dr. Francisco Dalupan, actually became the Warriors’ bench tactician by accident, as a reliever for then regular mentor Gabby Fajardo. Despite Fajardo’s outstanding record as a player, he failed to lift UE from the bottom of the UAAP cage wars during his watch.

Upon gifting UE the National Inter-Collegiate plum in his very first try as coach in 1955, what started as a temporary job continued for the next 40 years. Dalupan became one of only a handful of mentors to win titles in two major collegiate leagues, amateur commercial ranks and the professional league. He was also named national coach four times, including a stint in the Asian Games, Universiade and the World Championship.

Although it took him two years to hand the Warriors a UAAP diadem in 1957, that title conquest opened the gate for the C.M. Recto dribblers to rule the varsity league 11 more times in the 1958-59 season, 1960-61, 1962-63, 1963-64, 1965-66. 1966-67, 1967-68, 1968-69, 1969-70, 1970-71 and 1971-72.

The seven straight title victories, 1965 to 1971, remains unequalled up to this present time.

The four best coaches in the history of the Philippine Basketball Association are recognized by their peers. They are, from left: Tim Cone, Tommy Manotoc, Baby Dalupan and Norman Black.
The Warriors’ six National Inter-Collegiate title victories was at one time or another a record by any school until the University of Visayas of Cebu surpassed the feat. He retired as UE coach in 1971 but a call from his alma mater was hard to refuse as he found himself manning the Ateneo bench from 1972 to 1976 giving the Blue Eagles back-to-back NCAA championships in 1975 and 1976.

Of Baby’s 52 championship triumphs, 12 came from his partnership with Crispa owner and kumpadre Danny Floro, whom he gifted with 13 amateur crowns and nine PBA titles—six All-Filipino and seven import-laced conferences.

He guided the Crispa Floro Redmanizers to the league’s first ever sweep of the season that happened in the pro-rank’s only second year of existence in 1976.

Dalupan’s association with Floro  gave birth to the longest and most successful manager-coach partnership in the history of Philippine basketball that lasted for 20 years when the Babe took over from Amang Lopez to hand Crispa its first major crown, the Metropolitan Open in 1962.

It was a tandem between two men of strongly contrasting whim and temper. Dalupan, the coach, was a man of few words who strictly saw to it that his game orders are followed to the letter. A noted developer of talent, he was credited for the rise of countless stars in the local caging community.

Floro, the manager-owner, was a bright-faced sportsman whose generosity greatly contributed to his being a consistent winner. He, too, knew his basketball, if not as much as his Kumpadre.

Floro once joked about the secret of the partnership’s success, telling sports scribes who cared to listen, “Baby (Dalupan) disciplines the boys, I spoil them.”

Dalupan and Floro parted ways in 1981 but Baby just could not resist his passion for the sport he loves. Three years later he accepted an offer from Great Taste team manager Ignacio Go Tao to handle and guide the Gokongwei franchise to first five of only six title triumphs.

Coach Baby Dalupan is given a victory ride by his players with the Crispa Floro Redmanizers after the team won another championship in the Philippine Basketball Association. Looking on is Crispa’s amiable team manager Danny Floro.
Dalupan’s extraordinary knack to spot talented and potential superstars out of young, raw and untested talents gave him the edge over his coaching peers. He plucked out of nowhere Teofilo Pumaren, father of now coaching gurus Derek, Franz and Dindo, and Constancio Ortiz Jr.; heroes, in UE’s championship triumphs in the late ‘50s.

He was also credited with discovering then future national standouts and then PBA greats Roehl Nadurata, Jimmy Mariano, Robert Jaworski, Rudolf Kutch, Rudy Soriano, Johnny Revilla, Rey Franco, Rey Alcantara, among others who gave UE seven straight titles.

And during his tenure as UE’s athletic director, baby was also responsible for polishing the talents of Allan Caidic, Tito Varela, Ramon Cruz, Rudy Distrito and others.

Dalupan’s ability to develop his players into top caliber campaigners was reflected by the fact that six of the boys, who, played under his tutelage were named MVP of the PBA—Bogs Adornado, thrice in 1975 and 1976 with Crispa and 1981 with Universal Textiles; Freddie Hubalde (1977 with Crispa), Jaworski (1978 with Toyota), Atoy Co (1979 with Crispa), Philip Cezar (1980 with Crispa) and Abet Guidaben (1983 and 1987) with Crispa.

Three more pros, who at one time or another saw action under him, also earned at least one MVP award—Ricardo Brown (1985 with Great Taste), Caidic (1990 with Presto) and Alvin Patrimonio (1991, 1993, 1996 and 1997 with Purefoods).

Dalupan, who was born in Malabon on October 19, 1923 and a Bachelor in Business Administration degree holder at Ateneo, was named Coach of the Year four times: by the Philippine Sportswriters Association in 1958, by the All-Filipino Sports Awards from 1974 to 1976.

Married to Lourdes “Nenang”  Gaston of Hacienda Sta. Rosalla in Negros Occidental with whom he has eight children, Dalupan is an Ateneo Sports Hall of Fame Inductee, a Philippine Olympic Committee Olympism Awardee for Sports Tactician.

A Lifetime Achievement Awardee by the PBA Hall of Fame and the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines, the PBA Press Corps Award for Coach of the Year is named in his honor.

Baby’s sports career began at Ateneo where he was Team Captain of the school’s varsity football squad and member of its track and field and basketball teams. After graduation, he played for different commercial teams in the MICAA, acknowledged as the forerunner of the PBA, where he relied on his speed and dribbling abilities honed during his college days.

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