Thursday, June 1, 2023

yin and yang

History places the cradle of national basketball in Catalonia. There are many clubs in that region that have participated in the ACB, with greater or lesser relevance and longevity, throughout its forty years of life. Leaving aside the successes and prestige of Barça and Joventut, Bàsquet Manresa offers a real example of continuity, with humility and the “seny catalán” as its hallmarks. Since 1931 they have been making a virtue of necessity, rowing to stay among the elite of the sport of the basket. Aware of their limited economic capacity, the team from the Bages region has always been an accomplished specialist in the search for signings that provide peace of mind to their long-suffering and devoted parish.

Wearing the sponsorship of the mythical Japanese electronics company on its shirtfront, TDK Manresa became a classic entertainer of the eighties courts. The old Congost hosted one of the noisiest fans in the competition, offering a plus to its players when it came to competing against rivals that multiplied their budget. In the mid-1980s, the team chaired by Carlos Casas and coached by Juan Jiménez wanted to build a squad that would allow them to remain solvent in the recently created ACB league. In those years, apart from having national players of category and experience, the differential element was in the success of signing the foreign couple. And they were fortunate to find the ideal duo destined to mark an era at the Manresa club, Yin (Clyde Mayes) and Yang (Rolando Frazer).

Strange duo with unbeatable performance, Manresa’s painting was kept safe thanks to a pair of opposing players who were complementary at the same time. Neither Mayes nor Frazer stood out for their height, but they offered brilliant performance on both parts of the track. Clyde Mayes was a burly American, a veteran of a thousand battles and a tireless fighter under the rim. Tough on the defensive field, the mustachioed center dominated the rebounding field. Little friend of the preseason, good old Clyde suffered with physical preparation, but as a great competitor that he was, he gave his all in the 1v1 exercises during training. The story of his arrival at the TDK was curious. In those traditional summer tours of American players looking for a contract in Europe, they played a friendly in Tarragona and the Manresa coach traveled there along with three of his nationals (Jordi Creus and future Caja Ronda players, Luis Blanco and Pep Palacios ). Seeing the shortcomings of their squad and being aware of the budget, they made the decision to sign Mayes in what became a summer hit. A great professional, reserved and respectful in the dressing room, Clyde was the protagonist of another signing. The most veteran of Ciudad Jardín will remember that Mayes played in Malaga the year Caja Ronda was last promoted. After the “scare” of Mark McNamara, the typesetting club strove to find a substitute for guarantees and they set their eyes on good old Clyde. Legend has it that, taking advantage of Manresa’s elimination from the ACB, the unforgettable Martín Urbano took a briefcase full of dollars to convince the Manresa president and win the bid against other competitors. Mayes arrived on the Costa del Sol with a temporary contract, being decisive in achieving the goal of returning to the national league.

Rolando Frazer was the Yang. An accomplished scorer, endowed with exquisite offensive movements, the rocky power forward brought Panamanian character and rhythm to Manresa, despite suffering the rigors of “Pacheco” as the winter cold was called in his country. One of the biggest stars of Central American basketball, a benchmark for his team, Rolando left his mark at the Mundobasket held in Spain in 1986 as one of the top scorers. Frazer, a tireless shooter, made effective use of his forceful behind as a technical resource to gain position near the basket against taller and stronger opponents. From just 2.00 meters away from him, Frazer scored tirelessly thanks to his shot on the board. Palacios remembers how Frazer, with his Panamanian accent, assured that he always managed to score because he threw “a little board, friend!” A man of religious convictions, good Rolando thanked divine grace and the passers (Creus, Blanco and Pep Palacios) for his fabulous records. At the Congost, Frazer, appreciated in the locker room by his teammates and always in a good mood, transmitted his passion to the “fans” who filled the stands of the charming pavilion.

Mayes and Frazer, two very valid talents, great players who offered an exceptional performance in the midst of the Spanish basketball boom. Scoring and rebounding, brilliance and sobriety, Clyde and Rolando, the perfect symbiosis on the pitch that made history in the red shirt of TDK Manresa.

The Little Column (Simón RJ):

Did you know adam waczynskicurrent forward for Baxi Manresa, is he the famous “King Kong”, the man from Torun from Malaga?


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