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Check Six – 1969-1971: The Fabulous Five

March 11, 2022
Photograph from this article

From the Hawaii Athletics website

Last month, the University of Hawai‘i, Mānoa celebrated their basketball program’s “Fabulous Five”. Fifty years ago, these five players led the Rainbow team to two highly successful seasons. The following story, written by Lance Tominaga, was posted on the Hawai‘i Athletics website. His story provides a summary of the Fabulous Five era.

There is a Hawai‘i National Guard connection: John Penebacker was a 6’2″ Air Force veteran who played center on the team. He later became a member of the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, and quickly rose through the ranks. Years later, he retired as a colonel.

The University of Hawai‘i basketball program’s “Fabulous Five” era lasted just two seasons – 1970-71 and 1971-72 – but, oh, what an era it was.

Al Davis. Jerome Freeman. Dwight Holiday. Bob Nash. John Penebacker. These five young men came to the Islands and, along with their teammates and their head coach, Red Rocha, put Rainbow Warrior basketball on the college basketball map. Their accomplishments included a number of notable firsts: the program’s first postseason appearance, its first win over a ranked opponent, its first Rainbow Classic championship and its first national ranking.

This year, we celebrate the 50th anniversary of perhaps the Fabulous Five’s crowning achievement: Hawai‘i’s first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance.

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