PBA Board Vice Chairman Eliezer “Ely” Capacio, representing Petron Blaze, passed away early Sunday morning at the Asian Hospital, less than a day after suffering a ruptured aneurysm.
He was 58.
Capacio is the only PBA league personality to have risen from the ranks of player to become assistant coach, champion PBA head coach, team Governor and PBA Board Chairman, a post he held during the 2005-06 season.
He was lined up to become PBA Board Chairman anew next season to succeed current Chair Ramon Segismundo of Meralco, a responsibility he would have relished doing again despite his many tasks as San Miguel Corporation executive specifically as Vice -President and Human Resources head of Purefoods.
“It’s always a pleasure for me to repay the game and the league that has been good to me,” Capacio was once quoted to have said.
“3 yrs w/ Ely in PBA was a blessing. A true friend n fought for what is right not necessarily the political or convenient route. RIP, bro !” Segismundo posted on his Twitter account
The 6-foot-6 Capacio played a total of eight seasons for Tanduay from 1979 to 1985, averaging 5.9 points and 5.5 rebounds in a total of 324 games.
He was among Purefoods’ assistant coaches when the TJ Hotdogs entered the league in 1988 and took over the head coaching reins when Baby Dalupan resigned after the 1991 Open (First) Conference.
Born in Palo, Leyte, Capacio steered Purefoods to its first all-Filipino title right in his first conference as head coach, beating Sarsi in the 1991 All-Filipino Conference best-of-five Finals, three games to two.
As early as the semifinals of that conference, Capacio had boldly predicted the Hotdogs would win the championship if they reached the Finals.
“Palagay ko pumasok lang kami sa Finals, amin na ang korona,” he was quoted to have said.
Sarsi, coached by a young Yeng Guiao, however, took 1-0 and 2-1 leads but Purefoods went on to win its first all-Pinoy crown after losses in the Finals of the same conference in each of the franchise’s first three seasons.
Capacio had a chance to lead the Hotdogs to back-to-back all-Filipino titles the following season but lost to San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven Finals, 4-2.
Capacio wound up with a 45-48 win-loss record in five conferences as head coach of the now-San Mig Coffee franchise before stepping down and being replaced by Chot Reyes at the start of the 1993 season. Capacio then devoted his time to the corporate world at San Miguel Corporation.
“Father” Ely, as he was fondly called by his friends and peers after having attended the seminary before deciding to take a different course at Dela Salle University, is the elder brother of current GlobalPort assistant coach Glen. They are the only brothers in PBA history to win a championship together – one as head coach and the other as player in that 1991 All-Filipino Conference Purefoods title romp. (FM)