The 25-year-old Jacky, a power forward-centre, was with the national team in Jinjiang, China, for an invitational tournament to prepare for the Asian Championships in Manila from Aug 1-11. He was on the bench when he collapsed at 5pm. He was then rushed to a nearby hospital but was pronounced dead two hours later.
National coach Paul Advincula was clearly distressed as he spoke about Jacky.
“The team is saddened and grieving over the loss of Jacky. I want to be strong for the team but I cannot help but cry because Jacky was such a good and nice kid,” said a distraught Advincula in a telephone interview from China.
“He was a bright boy and one of the few players that I can have a lengthy conversation with. He was also hardworking and disciplined and you could never see him complaining during training.
“Right now all we know is that he died because of a suspected heart failure. We have yet to receive the final medical report on the cause of death. We rushed him to the nearby hospital but the doctor was not able to revive him. We are coping well but it is still a terrible and shocking loss.
“We will play in the Asia Championships because this is what Jacky would want us to do,” added the Filipino.
Malaysia Basketball Association (Maba) secretary general Chey Thet Woon said Jacky’s death came out of the blue because he never had any prior medical conditions in the past.
“It’s all too sudden and too shocking because we never expected it at all. Jacky was always so fit and healthy and he never complained of any sickness before,” said Thet Woon.
“He only started working with my company - Farmcochem - three months ago. He was well liked by his peers and friends and always showed good initiative and I’m personally saddened by his loss. This is in fact a huge loss to basketball in Malaysia because Jacky was an upcoming player and could have become an excellent player in a year or two,” added Thet Woon.
He said Maba would make the necessary arrangements to fly Jacky’s body back to Malaysia.