At 40 years old, Jerwin Gaco still keeps adding championships to his already-storied basketball career.
The 2019-2021 Chooks-to-Go MPBL Lakan championship was Gaco’s 15th title in his career, with crowns from the PBA, ABL, PBL, D-League, and UAAP.
But for the 6-foot-4 power forward, winning doesn’t get old. Every title feels the same sweet victory.
“Syempre lahat matamis. Iba-iba lang ‘yung kasamang players, coaches, pero iba ‘yung tamis ‘pag nag-champion. Talagang tanggal lahat ng pagod mo,” said Gaco on Tiebreaker Vodcast’s Crossover: Inside the Chooks-to-Go MPBL bubble, Tuesday.
“Iba ‘yung feeling, talagang sobrang heaven.”
For him to get his 15th championship, though, Gaco went through a journey.
He started the Lakan Cup with the Nueva Ecija Rice Vanguards, playing for seven games. They later mutually agreed to a release before the free agent signing deadline.
Then Davao Occidental-Cocolife took a chance on the grizzled veteran.
“We let one spot open at the beginning of the season hoping someone would be available at free agency time. And when we look at that free agent list, his name (Gaco) was here, and we were surprised that nobody was giving him a chance,” said Tigers coach Don Dulay.
“We took it right away. We told our management we need this guy going in, especially in the playoffs — you need that type of player.”
Gaco was instrumental in the National Finals for Davao, banging bodies down low with San Juan big men Larry Rodriguez, Jeff Tajonera, and Jhonard Clarito to name a few.
He started in Games Three and Four, providing the leadership, physicality, and intangibles for the Tigers.
“Jerwin was ready for that physicality, he was waiting. You can see him at the locker room waiting for that match-up,” said Dulay.
Now with his 15th championship under his belt, posts around social media have been calling Gaco a lucky charm.
But no, for Gaco, it’s all about hard work and blessings from God.
“Siyempre pray lang kay God. ‘Yun lang naman ‘yung totoong sikreto. Wala naman ‘yung lucky charm, nagkakataon lang siguro. Siyempre pinagta-trabahuhan naman ng buong team ‘yan.”