Basketball, tayo ay mag-basketall (Read it in full, I am sure you’ll laugh)

I was rooting for the Golden State Warriors, but it seems it is time for the Los Angeles Lakers to shine again. They will be facing the Nikola Jokic led Denver Nuggets in the western conference finals. I hope the Lakers will hurdle this one and the Jayson Tatum led Boston Celtics will be winner in the eastern conference finals. Balik ang Lakers vs Celtics competition. Parang Crispa-Toyota rivalry.

I am one of the several millions of Filipinos whom you can tag as basketball crazy. Each time I have the opportunity I will be glued on my television set watching the games. Since I was young I was and still a basketball fanatic. Still in my shorts, me and other kids played in a recreational center built by the late Roberto Toledo, a half mestizo expat which has a uncovered basketball court located few meters away from a nearby rice field in our barrio Cangatba in Porac town.

Those years there were already national hoop leagues. Prominent were the National Collegiate Athletics Association NCAA and the University Athletics Association of the Philippines (UAAP). In these annual basketball conferences some of the popular surnames were Mariano, Papa, Ed Ocampo, Tembong Melencio, Carlos Badion and Danny Florencio.(Sorry , I can’t remember all their first names). And before them there was Caloy Loyzaga whose shirt number I still remember was 41, and the sports radio sportscaster Willie Hernandez baptized him as the ‘The Great Difference’. His two sons, Chito and Joey also became PBA players. He was called such because he was the tallest among all players together with Lauro Mumar, father of Larry Mumar.I witnessed many games with my father at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum in Taft Avenue in Pasay City.

Perry Pangan of DWRW remember this so well. In 1984 I was the playing coach of the Pampanga Press Club and actively competed with exhibition games against several teams of some government agencies, including the teams of the Philippine Air Force led then by General Romeo David and the Pampanga Constabulary Command headed then by Colonels Rey Berroya and Nestor Sanares. The PPC team first five were Perry aka Rudy Distrito, Lincoln Baluyut aka Hector Calma, the late Sonny Lopez, Andy Lim and my son Gabriel. The reserves on the bench were the late Ody Fabian, Bert Basa, and the late Ram Mercado and Rolly Lingat. I don’t remember if Lino Sanchez Jr played any game. What I know he always showed up during the games wearing the uniforms he solicited from the late Agriculture Secretary Sonny Escudero.

One memorable game was an exhibition match we played vs. an assembled basketball team of the public affairs office of the US 13th Air Force at the latter’s gym. My Cumpareng Ram Mercado who even the start of the game noticed among the behemoth players was an attractive lady from public affairs office. Sonny and Ody who were suppose to be playing centers wanted to play guards. And Rolly for the first time begged me to be fielded, and I did. Rolly, Ody, Sonny and even Perry weren’t able to concentrate on the game but kept chasing the lady with an ago-go boobs that bounces every time she dribbled the ball on her way to make a lay-up. Our press club team tallied its highest penalty fouls in that particular game. Of course, we lose that one.


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