Hanging from the gym rafters of the Enrique Razon Sports Complex are the retired jerseys of the Lasallian legends: Lim Eng Beng, Ren Ritualo, Kurt Bachmann and Manila Santos. Their spectacular play on the court brought not only glory to the University, but also gave them legendary status in Lasallian lore.
Each generation of Lasallian athletes boasts a vast lineup of up and coming talents, with players hoping to bring glory to Team La Salle. Many athletes have donned the Green-and-White, but only an entitled few get to reach the Mt. Rushmore of Lasallian athletic greatness.
Yet the lack of recognition here does not mean that people have to forget about those who also deserve their very own place in Lasallian lore. Zandro “Jun” Limpot suited up for the DLSU Green Archers from 1988 to 1992 and he was known to be one of the most dominant players to ever suit up for La Salle.
He led the Green Archers to back-to-back championships in 1989 and 1990 and alongside current colleague in the Green Archers’ coaching staff and former UE Red Warrior Allan Caidic, he shares the record for the most number of Most Valuable Player (MVP) honors received, winning three during his stay in the UAAP.
From humble beginnings to UAAP domination
Coming into a collegiate team filled with senior players in its roster, Limpot found himself regularly seated on the bench. His playing minutes were then very limited, working as a mere substitute to the more veteran Green Archers of that time. The boy from Surigao had yet to find his niche in the Green Archers’ squad.
His sophomore year was a breakthrough. With then head coach Derrick Pumaren promoting the six-foot-six center into the starting five, Limpot was a benchwarmer no more as he was instrumental in clinching the Green Archers’ first UAAP basketball title. The previous year’s unacknowledged rookie carried the team on his shoulders as he consequently nabbed MVP plum to cap off what he personally believes was his favorite season. “Siguro yung first championship nung 1989,” he confidently affirms.
He continued his UAAP dominance the following year as he led La Salle to a back-to-back championship. Prevailing over all other players in the league, Limpot, dubbed “The Main Man”, was once again hailed as the MVP, a stunning and rare back-to-back achievement.
During his fourth year, Limpot led La Salle again into the finals, but the three-peat bid went sour as their supposedly third straight championship was nullified after FEU’s protest. The complaint arose over a DLSU player’s entry into the court in the final minutes of the match despite having been fouled out already. Though they won on the court, the championship was awarded to FEU due to the technicality forever marked in the history books. Limpot’s MVP streak was put to an end as well that season as runner-up to FEU star Johnny Abarrientos.
His final year with the Green-and-White cannot be discounted, although the Green Archers finished third and failed to even make it to the championship round. He concluded his stint for La Salle by seizing the MVP honors for the third time around in 1992, the highest total in the UAAP men’s basketball division to date.
Professional basketball career
Simultaneously with his UAAP stint, he also played in the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) for four years where he earned another MVP award and carried the Magnolia Team to four straight championships.
He eventually joined the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after being drafted 1st overall by the Sta Lucia Realtors in 1993, where he continued to play up until 1999. In contrast with his humble rookie years in the UAAP where he was a stranger to recognition, his debut in the PBA was studded with honors. He was the 1993 PBA Rookie of the Year, and he was part of that year’s PBA Mythical Second Team and PBA All-Defensive Team.
After spending seven years with Sta. Lucia, he was traded to Barangay Ginebra at the beginning of the new millennium. He then played for them for four years before suiting up for another franchise in 2004, the Purefoods Tender Juicy Giants, where he earned his only PBA championship in 2006. Limpot finally retired from the PBA in 2007.
When the opportunity to once again become a part of the team that he once brought to glory during his teenage years came, he accepted it in a heartbeat.
“After nung PBA, I took a break for awhile tapos na appoint si Gee [Abanilla] na naging teammate ko dati,” says the soft-spoken big man. “Tas yun, I took advantage of the opportunity [to give back].”
One of the things that Limpot holds close to his heart is the fact that his team has won championships in the UAAP. From 1989 to 1991, La Salle dominated the UAAP and save for 1991, wherein the championship was given up due to a controversial technicality, it was definitely a good time to be a Lasallian whenever Jun Limpot stepped on the basketball court.