Before King Archers Jun Limpot, Don Allado, Ren Ren Ritualo and Jeron Teng, there was Lim Eng Beng.
It was sad news not only for the De La Salle community but also for the entire basketball community to learn the passing of a great sports icon that served as inspiration to many athletes.
Lim, 64, who died on Monday because of liver cancer, was remembered by his former teammates, friends and relatives as the best player to play for the Green Archers.
He was also known for his strong charisma during his playing years with La Salle.
“Never has there been a player whose name became a cheer that would rock the entire venue Rizal Memorial Basketball Sports Complex like Lim Eng Beng,” Lim’s La Salle co-alumnus and friend Tony Lebron Atayde told The Manila Times.
Despite the absence of the three-point line during his year, Lim was a superb scorer averaging 32 points in his senior year in 1974 when La Salle was still playing in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA).
He led the Green Archers to two NCAA crowns—1971 and 1974.
Lim also held a single-game scoring record of 55 points in 1974.
“Imagine there was no three-point line in that time and his 55-point output in that game still remains a record in the UAAP-NCAA. He never missed a foul shot also during his years,” Atayde recalled. “Lim was also a very humble person. He was a very hardworking person. La Salle’s starting five that year was Doy Escober, Julie Lim, Dindo Guevarra, Lim Eng Beng and Mike Bilbao while their coach was Tito Eduque. Only Mike remains alive now. He used his basketball skills to rise from poverty from Tondo, Manila,” he added.
Lim’s archrival Atoy Co, who is now coaching Mapua, described his high school and collegiate rivalry with Lim as very memorable. They later brought their rivalry into the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) before becoming teammates in Crispa from 1983 to 1984.
“I was playing for the Philippine Cultural High School and Lim was playing for Chiang Kai Shek during our high school days. We are both superstars. When we went to college, he played for La Salle and I played for Mapua. I cherished those rivalries and I’m so happy about it,” said Co.
“We also have few years of rivalry in the pro, but later on we became teammates in Crispa from 1983 to 1984. After each game, we’re friends off the court. He fought very well and never gave up,” he said.
Virgil Villavicencio, Lim’s teammate for three years in La Salle, praised the latter’s professionalism and discipline.
“He was never late in practice and game, very professional and very well-disciplined,” said Villavicencio, who played for La Salle from 1971 to 1974. “He acted as comedian off the court but it was all-business when we’re inside the court. We learned a lot from him. He was our team captain.”
Lim was a direct-hire player from La Salle going into PBA in 1975 under the Concepcion team.
“His jump shot was very impressive that’s how I remembered my brother. There are many good talented players right now, but Beng is a great dribbler and scorer. Recently, Lim was conducting basketball clinic in Chiang Kai Shek teaching midgets,” said Juanito Lim, the second eldest brother of Lim.
“Lim was also a good family man. He worked very hard to make sure his three children finished their studies in La Salle despite financial challenges. He was survived by his wife Eleanor, sons Bryan and Benjie and daughter Erin,” he added.
Lim was a two-time PBA Mythical Five member (1975 and 1978) and got the Sportsmanship Award in 1980. He was named one of the 25 Greatest Player in 2000 and among the 40 Greatest Players in 2015.
Lim played for Wrangler and won two titles n 1978 and 1980. He also played for PBA teams U-Tex, San Miguel, Crispa, Shell and Manila Beer.
In 1998, Lim was inducted into the De La Salle Sports Hall of Fame.