Monday, January 31, 2011

Me and the real KG!

Tweet this morning about Kevin Garnett spreading like wildfire: When asked by a Lakers ballboy to sign a ball, KG said: "You got a better chance of catching Bin Laden." Ouch.

According to Paolo Bugia, KG supposedly gave RG -- Coach Ryan Gregorio -- the same take-a-hike-I-won't-sign-your-ball treatment (even after RG told him it was for Kerby Raymundo who wears #5 because of KG and even named his son after KG).

Mabuti pa yung isang KG, as in Kuya Germs, eto lang ang sinabi: "Walaaaaang Tuuuulugan!" MH

Sunday, January 30, 2011


I've always liked Sasha Vujacic. Not sure why. I think I like his shooting form. I didn't like how he defended Ray Allen in the 2008 Finals. He's like an underdog. But if you're with Maria Sharapova, hindi ka na dehado pards. Move over KIMERALD. Step aside BRANGELINA. There's a new power couple in town (even if Vujacic is a Net). All hail SASHARAPOVA.

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Cardona Malu-Feet 1 Sneaker

You've heard of the Vibram Five Finger Running Shoe right? The one with toes. Mukhang paa pero actually sapatos. What if we made one for hoops, designed one for Mac Cardona - a Mac Cardona Player Exlcusive (PE) dubbed "The Malu-Feet 1" or MF1.

MF 1 features classic blue/red racing stripes and Skull and Bones graphic (Cardonang-Cardona right?). The velcro strap pays homage to the iconic basketball shoe of my youth -- the '88 Nike Air Alpha Force. And yung mukhang mga patay na kuko, no those aren't real toe-nails. Those are state-of-the-art air vents. And finally...a Cardona PE is not a Cardona PE if it's not inspired by his long socks.

The feature, though, that will make me a gazillionaire: the MF1 Toe Ziplock. Pag kumati toe mo during a game, just zip open and scratch away. No other basketball shoe has this! Not Nike. Not Adi. Not Li Ning. Mac Cardona will be happy and I'll be a gazillionaire! MH

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The PBA's Most Wanted Man

Meet the PBA's Most Wanted Man. His crime: Over-Speeding. The PBA needs your help in catching this man. Oh and by the way, hindi malabo yung picture. Ganyan talaga yan. Kahit nakatayo, Jason Castro moves like a blur. MH

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Simon Greatwich and what cheering for him says about us

The FTW guys met Simon Greatwich during yesterday's taping. Richard del Rosario asked Simon to sign an Azkal jersey for his son. And it got me thinking: what does cheering for the Azkals say about us? That we're not that averse to Fil-Foreign athletes after all? That we recognize how grit comes in all shapes and forms? That being a Filipino winner is an evolving concept? That national teams/athletes outside of basketball can capture the imagination of fans if fans can actually watch them do it? MH

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My all-time favorite PABL team

After reading about the possible return of the PBL, I remembered I had this pic on my phone. It's an authentic Philips Sardines jersey, my all-time favorite amateur team, from the old PABL days.

Coached by Joe Lipa back in the late 80's, they had guys like Benjie Paras (UP), Ronnie Magsanoc (UP), Jun Reyes (Ateneo), Jayvee Gayoso (Ateneo), Joey Mendoza (UP), Aris Franco, Dodong Postanes (FEU), Jorge Gallent (FEU), Joey Guanio (UP), Benett Palad, Alfrancis Chua (UST), Joseph Canlas (Ateneo) and Eric Reyes (Ateneo). Parang UAAP selection.

Got this Alfie Manlulo jersey from his older brother Dondi Manlulo years ago. Manlulo was a 5'6" point guard who played for the Blue Eaglets in high school and the Fighting Maroons in college. Small guy. Big heart.

Who was Philips's arch-rival in the PABL? That would be Magnolia. Why? Magnolia fielded mostly DLSU players. Philips had UP-Ateneo-FEU guys. So it was automatic. MH

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

What Sportscasters do 10 minutes before tip-off.

What do PBA sportscasters do 10 minutes before tip-off? Some go over stats. Others practice their spiels. Alex Compton goes to the men's room of the Araneta Coliseum to shave.

What do PBA sportscasters do 45 minutes before tip-off? In Alex's case, he buys a disposable razor and a small canister of shaving cream outside the Big Dome.

Rumors that Alex needs to shave every 5 minutes just aren't true. He needs to shave every 55 minutes. At least, that's our computation.

So if you see Alex, already looking like Barry Gibb of the Bee Gees, dashing for the men's room at halftime with a portable shaving kit in his hand, you now know why. MH

Friday, January 14, 2011

San Miguel, TNT on the verge...

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

Some thoughts for today's double-header:

  • San Miguel's strength is its predictability. You know Jay Washington will perform. I know Alex Cabagnot is still Barangay Ginebra's Public Enemy #1 (especially with just 15 seconds remaining in the game), but the real thorn on Ginebra's side has been Washington. He's really the 2010-2011 version of Danny Seigle - understand that players are stronger, bigger now compared to Danny's counterparts back in the day. Washington is a wing-guy trapped in a power forward's body. And throughout this conference, Ginebra is still looking for a solution to the Washington Dilemma.
  • You also know Cabagnot will have the ball in his hands if the game goes down the wire. And good things happen when Cabagnot has the ball in his hands. Still remember the in-and-out-dribble-move he did against Jayjay Helterbrand in Game 4? Remember his clutch assist to Danny Ildefonso?
  • And San Miguel will be extra-motivated to win the game and clinch the series for Team Captain Olsen Racela. By tonight, Racela moves up to 4th all-time for most games played in the PBA.
  • Ginebra, on the other hand, is out to surprise. Every Ginebra game in the Semis, after all, has been some sort of McDo Happy Meal-- we wait for the surprise performance. Who will it be tonight? Miller? Caguioa? Tubid? Menk?
  • If Menk is healthy enough to post-up, he can change the pace of the game. He can also force San Miguel to defend differently. Because up to this point, San Miguel's defense is content watching Rudy Hatfield fire three-pointers. A post-up threat and perhaps the sudden emergence of JC Intal might be the extra boost Ginebra needs.
  • Ginebra's problem: Dondon Hontiveros and Arwind Santos don't need to be spectacular. If Washington and Cabagnot do their thing, all Dondon and Arwind need to be is -- steady.
  • Ginebra's solution: If there's one team built for do-or-die games, it's Ginebra.
  • In the meantime, can someone check if Jason Castro is officially listed as a Guard. In Game 5, Castro scored all of his 22 points in the shaded lane -- against Pingris, Maierhofer, Gaco and Salvador. How did he do that??? He also had 8 rebounds. Hanep - 22 points and 8 rebounds. Yan ang power-guard.
  • Jimmy Alapag had a modest 8 points but he tallied 11 assists. TNT knows Jimmy can score but they'd rather watch Jimmy moving that ball around, getting everyone involved as opposed to watching Jimmy's game completely possessed by the spirit of Mac Cardona.
  • And when the ball zips around, that's how Castro receives the ball under the basket, that's how lanes open up, that's how Larry Fonacier gets open looks, that's how Ali Peek flexes his muscle inside.
  • Kelly Williams, thanks to early foul trouble, had a forgettable Game 5. Don't expect him to have back-to-back bad games.
  • B-Meg Derby Ace is an energy team. It thrives on impact plays. James Yap will get his points. That's what MVP's do. But B-Meg goes high-octane when guys like Peter June Simon and Rico Maierhofer make big plays. If B-Meg's positive energy is contagious, so is the sometimes flat level of play.
  • Good News for B-Meg: Nino Canaleta is finally back on track. I think they decided to fine him PHP 800,000.00 for every ill-advised three-pointer he'll take in the final 3 minutes - so he'll be okay. Jonas Villanueva also found his offense (10 points in the first quarter of Game 5).
  • Bad News for B-Meg: Due to Castro's huge performance in Game 5, there will be less pressure on Alapag to score in Game 6. Thus, Alapag will have every reason to run the team, pass the ball and give everyone a chance to score. And a more generous Alapag makes TNT a more dangerous team. MH

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Reason to Run

Why do I run? Why do I subject myself to sixty minutes of self-inflicted, solitary agony? Because it doesn't feel like punishment. It actually feels like a reward. Tama. It's the prize for putting your shoes on. It's an award for deciding to get off the couch and hitting the road. Punishment is lining up for two hours to submit requirements in a government office. Running, ah, iba naman yun.

Not that I'm any good at it. Yes, I push myself to do it. Yes, I sometimes have to yank myself away from the laptop just to get it done. But there is a promise down the road. There's clear incentive to finish a run.

Plus when you mindlessly finish three small plates of Buddy's Pancit Habhab along with three pieces of extra-large Pandesal (something has to be done about the merienda served during FTW taping during Tuesday afternoons - sarap eh), the reason to run becomes even more evident.

Weather cooperated last night. And after a three-week break, I resumed my training for my 10K run scheduled next month. Flanked by a running group ready to hand me my oxygen mask, I took it slow around Bonifacio High Street. If you saw someone who looked like me crawling near R.O.X., yes that was me. Had a slow and steady run. Managed to complete my customary 60 minutes -- well more like 50-minute run and 10-minute brisk walk.

Still need to work on proper running form. Also need to remember to bring a windbreaker next time - to combat "ambon" or light rainfall or cold January nights.

I put on my shoes. I slipped into my dri-fit shirt. I plugged into my iPod Shuffle. Turned in a modest 6.5K performance as last night's prize. And it felt good. MH

Monday, January 10, 2011

Joe Cantada and the voices we grew up with

For the latest Philippine news stories and videos, visit GMANews.TV

One of our recent FTW episodes is somewhat disjointed. Richard Del Rosario, Magoo Marjon and I were supposed to discuss "famous sports catch phrases", the ones immortalized on television, the ones we still repeat up to now, during alumni games, weekend 5-on-5's and inter-barangay contests.

You know -- Noli Eala's "Susmaryosep" during highlight plays. Chino Trinidad's "It's Winning Time" to signal the last two minutes. Jude Turcuato's "Kaboom" right after three-point shots or "Book It" after open jumpshots. Or when Ed Picson illustrates his mastery of 1 billion dialects. Or Joaqui Trillo's "Wild and Wooly." Or when Sev Sarmenta lets out "And listen to this crowd roar!".

Of course what most of us still remember is Pinggoy Pengson's "Cardiac Game".

At least that was the title of the episode.

But we ended up discussing sportscasters we respected the most. Well, in truth, revered the most. And the conversation, especially one among 80's babies turned modern-day sportscasters, naturally gravitated towards Smokin' Joe Cantada.

I am disappointed at myself, really, that we forgot to mention the other greats -- Willie Hernandez and Dick Ildefonso. While I'm too young to remember Willie Hernandez, I'm old enough to know that Dick Ildefonso's voice was, still is, the envy of broadcasters.

I wish I could say some old-world term like "Bullseye!" with the same panache.

Dick was the standard-bearer during the PBA's pre-Joe Cantada years. He covered the UAAP until 1989. His coverage of the 1987 UAAP Finals between Ateneo and UE, although, as a Ateneo alumnus, he was obviously leaning towards Ateneo back in the day when there was no risk of being pilloried in internet chatrooms for doing so, is still a masterclass in voice control, command of the English language and a sure 10 out 10 on the swabe Scotch level.

I also should've mentioned the radio greats of the 80's -- DZSR legends Miss Belma Ignacio and the late-great Michael Charles Bugo.

At any rate, the bigger crime would've been to miss out on Joe Cantada. I learned English from him, as did many other youngsters who were weaned on the PBA. The biggest thrill of long, out of town PBA trips is to hear war stories about Cantada from Ed Picson and Sev Sarmenta; how Cantada and Joaqui Trillo's Ateneo smart-ass vs La Salle pogi-boy act never got old (which Jimmy Javier and Trillo naturally and effectively revived during the UAAP's Silverstar years in the 90's), how Cantada, already on the air, forgot the teams he was about to cover (he made mistakes better than anyone), how Cantada became so good at what he did.

I never expected in a million years that I, like everyone else in the sports broadcast industry, would work under the shadow of Cantada's greatness. It doesn't hurt to aspire for Cantada-esque impact even if we all know his legend will never be matched, much less overtaken. It's the right thing to do. It's what Smokin' Joe would've wanted. Sev Sarmenta (my PBA broadcasting mentor) has often told me Joe, if he was still alive, would surely, sincerely give pointers to guys like us (even if he will reluctantly help Richard and Magoo since they're La Sallites of the highest order).

Which makes me proud of the company I keep. For all the shooting-jokes I throw at Richard, he has my solid respect -- a legitimate PBA pro turned top-notch anchor possessing on-air comedic timing even Dolphy will admire. And Magoo, the stat-crazed fan who used to carry his legendary notebook of numbers around, is now a PBA anchor too - a logical reward for a true student of the game. And we all share for our reverence for the greats.

Back to Joe...

Smokin' Joe would've smoked the PBA taglish format for sure. He would've nailed it. I'm 2000% certain of it. Yet I'm not sure how Joe Cantada would've played out in today's Twitter age where everyone's fair game. Who knows if some Facebook self-made critic would've found him too eloquent, too poetic, too Atenean, too erudite, too bigotilyo, too pro-Ginebra, too anti-Ginebra, too D.O.M. or simply too damn good for a media environment which rewards TMZ for being the Jackass of journalism (don't worry I also watch TMZ especially when Tom Brady or Lamar Odom are in the program line-up). I wonder...

I'd like to believe there's a part of Joe Cantada in our every line, doesn't matter if it's said in Filipino or English. It's a commitment to honor the PBA's history. It's a commitment to deliver intelligent (and sometimes not-so-intelligent) humor in the context of basketball hehe. It's a commitment to not say too much. It's a commitment to say it the best way possible. Wherever you are in sportscasting heaven, salamat Smokin' Joe. MH

Friday, January 7, 2011

If Cabagnot does it one more time, Uwian na!

I'm tempted to wager my eyebrows again. Bakit hindi? Ipupusta ko kilay ko -- if Alex Cabagnot scores back-to-back game winners, one in Game 1 of the Semis vs Ginebra and another in Game 2 Friday night -- I will shave my eyebrows the way Jon Hall did in Survivor. Pero, pero, pero...on the other hand, bakit oo? Am I completely nuts?! I barely survived this wager once. A betting man will tell me not to tempt fate in Game 2.

After all, Cabagnot has scored game-winners against the following defenders; LA Tenorio, Roger Yap and Rudy Hatfield. He has scored game-winners against the following defensive-minded teams: Alaska, B-Meg Derby Ace and Ginebra. You do it once -- pwedeng chamba. You do it twice -- yan ang swerte. But to do it thrice -- aba, aba, nakakarami ka na ah. And I will not lose my eyebrows just because Cabagnot can spell C-L-U-T-C-H in less then 10 seconds.

Meet The Cube

Say hello to an erring referees's worst nightmare. Meet "The Cube". What an upgrade from the old scoreboard to this new one; it's like making the jump from a bulky Trinitron TV set to a sleek, state-of-the-art flatscreen unit.
According to Big Dome officials, they ordered The Cube, custom-built by the way, from the same supplier who made state-of-the-art scoreboards for the Miami Heat and the Orlando Magic. And judging by fans' reaction to the new LED scoreboard/wide screen inside the Big Dome, "The Cube" is an instant hit!

If you were watching the games at home last Wednesday, you might have noticed the louder, stronger reaction from fans after contested calls. I'm certain the referees felt the difference too. Fans inside the Big Dome saw each television replay in crisp detail. A referee, therefore, who misses a call by mistake, or a player who fumbles at the worst possible time, will hear it from the crowd for sure. Walang kawala.

Lost and Found Section

Strange how Harvey Carey, a player averaging about 10 FG attempts per game, has been limited to just 11 total FG attempts in the first two games of the Semis. Even his rebounding is slightly down from 13 RPG to 9 RPG -- which is still very good but Carey knows he can do better.

Meantime, Jonas Villanueva is a lost man in the Semis. Villanueva normed 14 PPG and 35 mins in the two Quarterfinal games vs Meralco. In the two Semis games vs TNT, he is shooting a combined 1 out of 11 from the field.

The good news for B-Meg: Nino Canaleta's offense is back. 12 PPG 7 RPG in the Semis. Nice. The bad news: his questionable shot selection and decision-making is still there. Ngek. If he can resist launching ill-advised three pointers down the stretch and simply wait for an open shot with the shot-clock winding down, Canaleta can be a hero in one or two games in the Semis.

Last Shot

Ronald Tubid told NBN Sports Guy and PBA Radio Anchor Snow Badua that "he will show Cabagnot the meaning of defense Filipino style on Friday." Uhm, will Tubid use Eskrima or Yaw-Yan against Cabagnot? Abangan.MH

Monday, January 3, 2011

Sports Illustrated and the way we'll talk Sports in 2011

"The magazine was edited in those days from the standpoint of 'What we think is important is what you should think is important. And if you don't agree with it, that's your problem.'" - Dan Jenkins

I believe I started and finished reading "The Franchise - A History of Sports Illustrated Magazine" in December for a reason. I'm visceral that way. I believe in signs. I trust my instincts. Of all the books I could've picked out, of all the titles I could've chosen, I ended up with a book about the history of Sports Illustrated -- the bible of sportswriting. "The Franchise" was the last book I opened and closed for 2010. It was, fortuitously, my last book for the decade.

I sort of grew up with Sports Illustrated (SI). As a teenager, I was too young to subscribe and it was too expensive to buy on a regular basis. When I was old enough to understand Sports Illustrated's significance in American sports and financially ready to buy mostly back-issues, I immediately understood SI's revered place in the sports universe.

SI opened my eyes to the dramatic and literary value of sports. In my mind, reading SI was akin to printing Joe Cantada's televised eloquence on glossy paper. SI proved that there were provocative ways to document basketball games, Superbowl wins, playoff busts and championship celebrations. Information was simply part of the equation. Insight, on the other hand, set SI pieces apart from news accounts. It was my 90's pseudo-education in sports lit.

Did SI influence my writing? Absolutely. It also taught me to look at teams and athletes from different vantage points. While ESPN SportsCenter (referring to the US-Dan Partick-Keith Olbermann-version which aired on SkyCable in the 90's, not the current Asian-market SportsCenter you see on local cable today) injected snappy humor and repartee into sports broadcasts, SI infused wry wit and the equivalent of literary ball-wizardry into sports articles.

And my imagination ran wild like Sol Mercado on a fastbreak.

Through the book, I wasn't surprised to learn about SI's early impact and substantial conbtribution to the eventual commercialization of sports. I was, however, startled by how ESPN's evolution from cable sports channel to media tour de force ruffled SI's long-established dominance over sports discourse.

Realization: even icons must adapt. And by adapt, so-called legends -- even pop-culture monoliths like Sports Illustrated -- must learn to adjust before the it needs to adjust. Before a group or a body of work or a previously unflappable entity falls into the sentimental category. By the time people recognize your value out of nostalgic obligation, it's over.

As Frank Deford surmises: "It suddenly occured to me that the reason so many people are harsh about the current SI is that they grew up with the magazine. They started as kids. In that sense, SI is like their music or their clothes, or their first kisses. It is part of their growing up, and they have so idealized (as we do much of childhood) that the current version can't possibly measure up."

A milestone of a magazine ruled its domain. Then, cable television happened. And now, in the App Age, sports fans can strive to be Frank Deford and George Plimpton reincarnate on Facebook. The highly-acclaimed SI writer was once the unequivocal voice of some sports god. Today, it is just one, albeit highly-literate, voice in a universe of cynics and die-hards, experts and fairwearther fans, speedy tweets and kilometric blogs.

In 2010, we discussed sports and debated over athletes on many platforms. We watched. We read. We went online. And in no particular order. SI was once the voice just as Joe Cantada was once the voice just as the sports page of the newspaper was once the voice.

Today, we can all speak up. It's a fact SI now has to contend with. It's 2011 and the sporting galaxy is made up of connections. Television is never totally seperate from print media. A live event is plugged into online consciousness. One athlete can achieve immortality through one spectacular online highlight. A league, for instance, is one twitter account and several successful YouTube uploads away from transforming itself into the Arnel Pineda of sports.

Coaches preach ball movement. It isn't time to drop the ball. It's the best time to pass it to the next guy. It's time to play motion-offense. Swing the ball around. It's 2011. Time to move. Time to grow. Time to share. Time to understand. Time to connect with the sports we follow...through 3G, through 4G, in 3D, with WIFI, on HD, through Vimeo, via USTREAM, download by download.

As soon as I closed the book, I recognized the sign. It says sports events, sports leagues, sports personalities don't exist in a time warp. They can choose to stay put to where they think they are. Or...they can grow, exponentially, like a compelling FB status message. They just have to learn how to do it. The challenge for sports is no longer to catch up with New Media. The challenge for Philippine sports, in particular, is to play an active part in Now Media. So athletes from different disciplines can speak up. So we can all share our voice. So everyone can join the game. Happy New Year everyone! MH