They say being a basketball player makes it easier for men to attract women. But what if you were a popular cager paid to play? Makes you a venerable chick magnet, right?
Curiously, this is not a recent phenomenon. Over the years, basketball players, particularly those who have played in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), have found themselves attracting not just the ordinary female fan, but popular celebrities as well.
For the first part of this series, we name a lineup of 12 female celebrities whose relationship with basketball players were often the talk of envious fans of yesteryear. Some of them became controversial, even becoming tabloid fodder, while some ultimately tied the knot. And for those who have no idea who the players are on this list, tell your tito to go online now—he can help you understand how "attractive" these ballers' games were!
1) Evelyn Bautista
The name doesn’t ring a bell so much. But Evelyn was already making heads turn being the daughter of action superstar Ramon Revilla, Sr. Her popularity even grew further after marrying Robert Jaworski, Sr. Fans will always remember Evelyn as the doting and loyal wife who never missed her husband’s games with Toyota and Ginebra.
2) Tina Revilla
It wasn’t difficult to understand where Tina Revilla’s unadulterated beauty came from. Her parents, actors Armando Goyena and Paquita Roces, were one of the most handsome couples of the '50s. Tina (and her sisters) possessed the most beautiful face(s) in the Philippines and graced the covers of several magazines. She was a Toyota fan and admitted to being smitten by Francis Arnaiz. No one really knew if the two became a couple although Tina continued her support for the team even after Arnaiz got married to…
3) Susan Reyes
A popular commercial model who starred in the very popular margarine commercial that carried the jingle, “sa BLENDA ang sarap, sa BLENDA ang ligaya, sa bawa’t kagat, ligaya ang sarap!” The marriage didn’t last though, with Susan eventually finding herself in the arms of businessman Geny Lopez. The breakup wasn’t lost on Arnaiz’s arch-rival, Bernie Fabiosa of the Crispa Redmanizers, who constantly needled him for being left by his wife for another man, often leading to fisticuffs.
4) Tetchie Ysmael
The Ysmael family was into the steel business and was part of the elite Manila’s 400, meaning they belong to the richest families in the country. Yet, this didn’t stop the equally influential Mike Bilbao from winning the heart of Tetchie, an illustrious ramp model. Bilbao’s Spanish features, coupled with his popularity as a player for the DLSU Green Archers, and later, with the Tanduay Distillers in the PBA, probably contributed in her decision to settle down with the wily point guard.
5) Alona Alegre
One of the most popular sexpots during her time, Alona Alegre carried showbiz pedigree, being part of the huge Salvador clan in the celluloid world. Her romantic involvement with Crispa scorer Fortunato “Atoy” Co, Jr. only increased her fanbase, particularly with males. The relationship didn’t last though.
6) Coney Reyes
Beauty and brains were the assets that Coney Reyes brought to showbiz, becoming one of the co-hosts of the top noontime program, Student Canteen. A consistent honor student in college, Coney’s articulateness was evident, making her one of the most bankable hosts of her time. She met and fell in love with former national team player Larry Mumar, siring two children in the process. The two eventually broke up, with Coney subsequently moving to Eat Bulaga!, where she met another stud in Vic Sotto.
7) Rosemarie Gil
Rosemarie Gil got married to crooner Eddie “Philippines’ Elvis Presley” Mesa, their union brought us actors Michael De Mesa, Mark Gil(+) and Cherie Gil. What was unknown to many was that while Mesa and Rosemarie got estranged, then Royal Tru Orange superstar Estoy Estrada came into the scene and lent Rosemarie more than a shoulder to cry on. The relationship was short-lived, and she eventually reunited with Mesa.
8) Lotis Key
Lotis Key’s popularity surged in the early '70s, winning an acting award, and becoming Dolphy’s girlfriend. Lotis was a venerable eye candy, cute and petite. Her relationship with the King of Comedy didn’t last though, and so did her showbiz career. She eventually left for the US and married Bambi Kabigting, a solidly built guard who played for San Miguel Beer and Great Taste Coffee in the PBA but became popular as a member of the NCAA champion Ateneo Blue Eagles team in 1975.
9) Daisy Romualdez
While she's now more known as the mother of actresses Kristina and Danita Paner, there was a time back in the late 60’s when Daisy Romualdez was also carving out a name for herself as a movie star. Out titos, however, also remember her as the wife of their generation's premier center—Royal Tru Orange’s Manny Paner.
10) Rio Locsin
Locsin was one of the most desirable young women of her time, establishing herself first as a beautiful and young sex nymphet for Regal Films, appearing in the sexy flick, Disgrasyada. Rio continued to appear in several sexy movies for a couple more years, before finally abandoning this and going into serious acting. She then met Tanduay Rhum Makers defensive forward Padim Israel, and the two eventually got married, with Rio becoming a pastor’s wife while continuing to appear in television programs today.
11) Josephine Manuel
During the time bold flicks ruled the movie world (late '70s to early '80s), it wasn’t uncommon to see one starlet after another being introduced as the “next big star.” Josephine, a striking morena, was one of them. Her most memorable image was a naked photo of her lying on the floor with a snake covering her private parts, reminiscent of a similar pose made by German actress Nastassja Kinski. During that brief period of success, Josephine hooked up with another young sensation, Toyota star Arnie Tuadles.
12) Malu Barry
Bernie Fabiosa’s career was already on the decline in the mid- to late-'80s brought about by injuries and age. But his confidence and self-esteem didn’t waver, finding love in a sultry singer with a raspy voice named Malu Barry. Malu was a popular singer in clubs and hotel lounges, and was a favorite guest of television legend Joe Quirino in his IBC 13 program, Seeing Stars with JQ. She went on to appear in movies playing contravida roles before moving out of the country and settling in the US.
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