Butch Maniego, a pillar in the local sportscasting industry, passed away Sunday after suffering cardiac arrest. He was 50.
Maniego had been in poor health in recent years due to diabetes, and had been bedridden for almost a month before his demise, although there were signs he was getting better. In his Twitter account, he had said he hoped to be fully recovered in two months’ time. Just three weeks ago, he said in a tweet that he was “halfway to recovery”.
On his Facebook page, Maniego answered the “Works at…” portion with “name a basketball league here, and I had probably some involvement in it.”
And he wasn’t kidding. He got his first big break as an analyst for Vintage Sports in 1989, covering the Philippine Basketball Association games. He was part of a new breed of sportscasters hired by Vintage to do TV commentary for the pro league, a group that included the likes of Bill Velasco, Sev Sarmenta, and Ed Picson, among others. He developed an even-tempered, smooth style that became his trademark and endeared him to the basketball-viewing public, and was also known for his encyclopedic knowledge of Philippine basketball.
He later did TV commentary for the Metropolitan Basketball Association (MBA), and eventually became Executive Director of the Philippine Basketball League (PBL) during the time of Commissioner Chino Trinidad. He eventually went back to doing TV work, serving as an analyst for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) games on Studio 23 until last year.
At the time of his death, Maniego was Executive Director of the PBA Developmental League (D-League) and a columnist for the local sports website spin.ph.
Longtime friend and colleague Noel Zarate first broke the news that Maniego’s health had taken a turn for the worse, tweeting at around 5PM that Maniego was undergoing emergency treatment at the Philippine Heart Center. Two hours later, Zarate, who credits Maniego for giving him his first big break in sportscasting, broke the sad news that Maniego had passed away.
As soon as the news broke, tributes from his colleagues began pouring in for the longtime stalwart of the local sportscasting industry.
Velasco posted this status update on his Facebook page: “Farewell, Butch Maniego. You were a scrabble champion, math genius, sportscasting pioneer, pop culture repository, favorite partner and decades-long friend. I will always miss your Humor and ease. Rest well, my friend. Go with God.”
Zarate, meanwhile, started the hashtag #RIPButchManiego on Twitter to give friends and fans a way of saying their last goodbyes. He also tweeted that Maniego’s wake would be held at the Sanctuarium along Araneta Avenue in Quezon City.
Using the hashtag, Smart Gilas coach Chot Reyes tweeted: “#RIPButchManiego: It was a privilege working w u: covering games, working leagues, etc. Win SCRABBLE tournaments up there!”
Yahoo! PH blogger Patricia Hizon tweeted: “Prayers to the family of Butch Maniego. RIP, BUTCH. You were appreciated, loved, respected & will b missed.”
GMA-7 news reporter Mark Zambrano shared this tweet: “@butchmaniego 's advice to me: the moment you fail to show the viewers your passion for sports, that's when you've failed as a sportscaster.”UAAP analyst TJ Manotoc said: “RIP Butch Maniego. You have contributed so much to Philippine basketball. I learned a lot growing up listening to you.”
Another UAAP sportscaster, anchor Boom Gonzales, tweeted: “It was an honor learning from and working with you @butchmaniego .... An even greater honor being called your friend. Rest in peace partner.”
Picson, who covered several PBA games with Maniego back in the early 90s, tweeted: “Got a text frm Butch Maniego's # saying "Dad passed away already". Had to open Twitter to find out what it really meant. Go w/God, my friend.”
Yahoo! Philippines Sports joins the rest of the local sports media in mourning the loss of Butch Maniego, sportscasting pioneer and basketball devotee.