Nicanor “Nic” Jorge—Best Center founder and president, former secretary general of the Basketball Association of the Philippines, former national coach, and the youngest ever to coach the University of the Philippines (UP) Maroons—died in his sleep on Saturday. He was 78.
He is survived by wife Marilyn, his children Nick, Veronica and Victor, and Monica, and grandsons Niccolo and Enzo.
Jorge was known to his friends as both a dreamer and a mover, proof to this was his founding in 1978 of the Basketball Efficiency and Scientific Training Center (Best Center)—the pioneering sports clinician that launched the careers of many basketball stars when there was no national youth development program for the sport yet.
The gentle giant Jorge did not stop producing the sports stars until his death. Among the Best Center products, who rose to become the biggest names in the sport are Benjie Paras, Jerry Codiñera, Boybits Victoria, Jun Limpot, Rey Evangelista, Patrick Fran, Paolo Mendoza, Chris Tiu, Joseph Yeo, Larry Fonacier and Kiefer Ravena.
Jorge did not discriminate as he also rooted for women’s basketball development.
At the same time of his founding of the Best Center, Jorge also coached the Philippine team that saw action in the 1978 Fiba World Cup in Manila. He also coached the Manhattan Shirthmakers and the Sunkist Juice Lovers in the early years of the Philippine Basketball Association.
Jorge served as the UP Maroons’ coach at the young age of 21.
Unknown to many, Jorge was one of the silent workers, who strove to form what was then known as the “basketball superbody” that aimed to replace the dysfunctional Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP), in which he served as secretary-general.
Along with then PBA Commissioner Jun Bernardino and former Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC) Secretary-General Mauricio “Moying” Martelino, it was the trio which convinced industrialist Manny V. Pangilinan to take the helm of the country’s basketball program.
It was not an easy route, but Pangilinan’s team managed to gain the FIBA (International Basketball Federation) approval that led to the formation of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP).
Jorge briefly served at the SBP but went back to what he loved most, training and developing the youth in basketball and then lately in volleyball.
His body was cremated Saturday.