THE BETS -- The crowd at the Villa Angela Tennis Court, their eyes glued on the finals, abruptly stopped their discussions when in the last quarter, the San Antonio Spurs in few more basketball minutes will be crowned the new National Basketball Association (NBA), as the defending champion Miami Heat of our kababayan coach Erik Spoelstra was still trailing by double digit.
I placed a wager for the Miami Heat, not necessarily because I am a fan of Lebron James, but because I wanted Spoelstra to be having more championship rings. I admire Spoelstra because he raised the consciousness of many people in the many parts of the world about the Yolanda tragedy when he made plea on national TV in the United States. It resulted to the pouring of many donations, and many sourced from the sporting world. And he is being proud of his Filipino heritage.
I lost my wager for the Miami, but I didn't feel bad. Another thing, I don't mind losing to friends, and anyhow I joined the winner and other friends in downing the two cases of beer.
REMEMBER WHEN? Nine out of ten boys in the country, one time or the other, played basketball, either in their yard, in school gyms, or in barangay basketball courts. Believe it or not, I was one time a playing coach, and Perry Pangan of DWRW tagged me the monicker, Ricky Brown, the sweet shooting thrree pointer of the defunct Great Taste Coffee basketball team. And Perry was the Rudy Distrito of our team.
Even my Cumpareng Ram Mercado, one of the best essayists in the country and a columnist in this page once played basketball when he was a young reporter of the defunct Philippine Herald. He later became a coach of a team (is it Monkees or Beatles) in his hometown of Mexico.
Would you believe a team composed of Sonny Lopez, the late Ody Fabian, photo-journalist Bert Basa, Lincoln Baluyot, broadcaster Rolly Lingat, Perry and me played against teams from the Philippine Air Force led by General Romy David, Pampanga Constabulary Command, Bureau of Customs, US Air Force and few more others. We lost some, and we won some.
Too bad, today not even the collagen tablets supplement we take daily would last anyone of us a first quarter of the game.
THE GREAT TEAMS -- Robert "Sonny" Jaworski, aka Big J, drew the basketball fans in droves to the Toyota vs Crispa games. It always filled the rafters of Araneta Coliseum in Cubao. It was like the rivalry between Ateneo Blue Eagles vs La Salle Green Archers. All seats taken.
Earlier there were the teams like Yco, Yutivo, Seven Up where Carlos 'the big difference Loyzaga, Lauro ‘the fox' Mumar, Carlos Badion, Loreto Carbonnel, Gerry Cruz, Danny Florencio and many other great players who came ahead of Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, Manny Paner, Estoy Estrada, Atoy Co, Bogs Adornado, Ato Agustin, Adriano Papa, Vergel Meneses, Abe King, Hector Calma, Jaime Taguines, Abet Guidaben and many others who played with different teams from the old MICAA to PBA.
And not even the surging popularity of football, and the sensational showing of the new Philippine pride, the Azkals can replace the Filipinos love for basketball.
THE MBA -- MBA stands for Metropolitan Basketball Association. The commissioner was Ramon Fernandez, the former standout of Toyota. Somehow, it perished under his watch. It was one athletic association that should be revived.
Remember Pampanga's own team Pampanga Dragon? The Nueva Ecija Patriots, Negros Slashers, Batangas Blades and other teams from many provinces with their own boys as players.
Maybe interested governors of provinces may consider its revival. Or in case Boss Danding Cojuangco or sportsman Bong Pineda, who both love basketball, may chance reading this item, may we request them to take the lead, and initiate the revival.