Monday, February 20, 2006

My Old Team Won the Championship

Well, not exactly. The "real" PBA team, whose namesake I played for in a sponsored league in Saudi Arabia, won the San Miguel Coffee PBA Fiesta Championship last night. The Red Bull (yes, the energy drink) Barakos defeated the Pure Foods "Chunkee Giants" to win the best of seven series. I enjoyed watching these games with my father-in-law, though it was tough to choose a favorite. I feel some loyalty to the Red Bull team, having worn their uniform, but their sponsor makes an energy drink that tastes like bad cough syrup, while Pure Foods makes the best hotdogs in the world. Besides, each team played hard, and has several likeable players.

The final game's goat, Pure Food's sharpshooter James Yap, shares the birthdate of my daughter, which in some minds is significant. I hope that his missing an easy layup---which some say gave the game to Red Bull--- in the last minute isn't part of some sort of bad birthday karma that will also haunt Veronica. Yap, in addition to being one of my favorite players for his scrappy guard play, is best-known as the boyfriend/bedmate/what-have-you of Kris Aquino. Ms Aquino is the daughter of the heroic Senator (Ninoy) and former housewife-turned-puppet-president (Cory). She is the Philippine Islands' answer to Oprah Winfrey, so I suppose Mr Yap is something of a Stedman.

Enrico Villanueva, the captain of Red Bull's team, is the sort of fundamentally sound, hard-working rebounder and defender that I admire. He's sorta like Dennis Rodman if you add good manners, offensive skills, and then remove the insanity.

Pure Food's American star, Marquin Chandler (who played at San Jose State early, was looked at by the Kings,but didn't get drafted or picked up), was voted the league's most-valuable-import player (he dominates the game, as he is much better than any of the locals), and he looked to have to tools to at least "ride a bench" in the NBA, dropping three-point shots and executing all over the court. Of course, it's hard to make an accurate assessment, watching him play against this level of competition (no disrespect intended towards the PBA, as they put a fine product on the court).

As a note, PBA teams will often have different mascot names from season to season, depending on what sort of product the sponsor is wanting to publicize. In the past five years, the Red Bull team has been called the "Energy Kings" and the "Thunder", while Pure Foods' mascot was recently the "TJ Hotdogs". Of course, with competition from teams like the "Realtors", and the "Beermen", you can see why these guys don't mind changing names so often. Those of you who are nostalgic PBA fans probably long for the return of the "Redmanizers" and the "Coffee Makers".


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