By Jean Malanum

Samboy Lim (left) and Allan Caidic in 1986 (Photo courtesy of Samboy Lim Facebook)

MANILA —The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) paid tribute to the late Avelino “Samboy” Lim Jr., one of the best basketball players the league has produced.

Lim, popularly known as “The Skywalker” because of his ability to suspend himself midair, passed away at the age of 61, as announced on his official Facebook page and Instagram account on Saturday night.

“The NCAA joins the basketball community in remembering the life of Samboy Lim, one of the greatest Filipino basketball players of our time,” NCAA Management Committee chair Paul Supan of Season 99 host Jose Rizal University said in a press statement on Sunday.

Lim played for the Letran Knights, helping the Dominican school to a three-peat from 1982 to 1984.

He was also the NCAA  Most Valuable Player in 1984.

“He was an exemplary athlete from the time he played in the NCAA up to his stint in the national team and in the pros,” said Supan. “He was an inspiration and a model for most, if not all, who have seen him play.”

According to reports, Lim passed away at the Medical City in Pasig, surrounded by former wife Lelen daughter and national karate team member Jamie, and other relatives; fellow legend and friend Allan Caidic; and another close friend, Robert Evangelista.

Others witnessed his final moments via online chat.

Lim suffered a heart attack during an informal exhibition game at Ynares Arena in Pasig in 2014.

He fell into a coma, eventually regained consciousness, but never fully recovered. He never walked again and lost his eyesight and voice.

“We thank Samboy’s amazing team of doctors headed by Dr. Luigi Segundo, physical therapists, nurses, caregivers, family and friends who, for the last 9 years, took excellent care of him. Please pray for Samboy. He needs our prayers as we commend his soul to the loving arms of our Lord God. Please have mercy on Samboy and grant him everlasting peace,” his family posted on Facebook. (PNA)