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Barako Bull manager among 'Ondoy' casualties

September 27, 2009 8:31pm

A tragic accident claimed the life of Tony Chua, the team manager of Barako Bull who once served as chairperson of the PBA Board of Governors, at the height of tropical storm “Ondoy" Saturday.

Chua drowned as he was swallowed by flash floods while on his way home in Filinvest along Marcos Highway in Antipolo, according to reports. His body was found Sunday at around 4 a.m.

He was with his driver and long-time personal assistant, Jonare Pedal, when the accident occurred. The driver narrated that the assistant was the first to be swept away by the onrushing water.

Chua was clinging to a tree branch when a thick piece of wood hit him, reports said. Chua lost his grip and was eventually washed away.

The assistant is still missing as of posting time.

Koy Banal, the assistant coach of the Purefoods TJ Giants who also happens to live in Filinvest, suffered the same horrific ordeal but fortunately managed to cheat death, according to Giants’ coach Ryan Greogorio.

Gregorio said Banal also clung to a tree branch for hours and saw a man trying to be rescued. The man, however, lost hold of the nylon cord before being taken away by the flood. Banal believes that the man was Chua.

Chua was with the Energy Food and Drink basketball team since its PBL days. He was Barako Bull's representative to the PBA board at the time of his death.

The amiable Barako Bull official served as the board chairperson during the 2006-07 season.

Big loss to PBA

"I'm deeply saddened, shocked, emotional and totally lost for words to express grief. Tony was a friend, a phone pal and a buddy. He was the life of the party and no problem or difficulty unfazed him. I will miss him," said Talk 'N Text's Ricky Vargas.

"Chairman Tony Chua was loved by all," said Alaska's Joaqui Trillo. “He was a great person, always helping everybody all the time. He's a big loss."

For his part, current PBA board chair Lito Alvarez of Burger King said Chua “will forever be missed by the entire PBA family."

PBA Commissioner Sonny Barrios said he was personally affected as Chua was the one who welcomed him in his first day of work as OIC of the league in 2007.

“I've always worked well with him as he constantly wanted PBA to be in the limelight," said Barrios.

The other members of the board also paid tribute to their departed peer.

"The untimely passing of Governor Tony Chua is surely a great loss to the PBA. We will miss his energy and enthusiasm in trying to energize and revitalize the league," said Sta. Lucia's Buddy Encarnado.

Purefoods’ Ely Capacio said the league “will miss his dedication and contributions to the board."

Former Red Bull coach Yeng Guiao also had only good words for his former boss.

He said: "He was well liked by everyone in the basketball community. We were like family in the Red Bull organization. We remained very close even after my transfer to Burger King. I owe him a lot in my career as PBL commissioner and PBA coach."

Chua played soccer during his high school and college days at Letran.

After his playing days, he turned to coaching and went on to become head coach of the RP ladies team. He also became vice president of the Philippine Football Federation. - GMANews.TV