By Regin Reyno
Coming from the Philippines, one of my favorite sports is basketball. Basketball in the Philippines is crazy as football is to South America and Europe. So when I learned in 2010 that there’s a new league of basketball for this region-Southeast Asia-I was so cheerful and followed almost every game. I was already working in Thailand during that time, and if given the opportunity, I come to watch the games live.
The intensity of the league is very captivating, because even if it is a club versus club ballgame, still the country’s pride is at stake. I automatically became a fan of Philippine Patriots then. Supporting and watching their games.
Because of ABL, we basketball fans were so delighted. It means I’ll have a break from watching the Premiere League and La Liga, and watch my favorite sport, which is not so common here in Thailand.
The arrival of the 2012 season of ABL became more interesting as there were teams that have been added. And when I learned who were the players of the new team from the Philippines-San Miguel Beermen-I switched from being a fan of Patriots to a San Miguel fan. I kept on watching their games on ESPN and sometimes at the Thai-Japanese stadium here in Bangkok.
As an avid ABL fan, I also participated in the discussions in their official facebook page, interacting with fellow basketball fans in this region. That page actually added excitement and a sense of competition and spirit.
As the season comes to a close and the games reached the playoffs, I was really hoping that my favorite team, the San Miguel Beermen can make it to the finals. So when learned that they beat Malaysia KL Dragons in the semifinals, I was so happy.
And yet what made me happier was that, ABL has chosen me to be the lucky fan who can watch the game live in Jakarta. I was given the chance to watch game 2 of the finals with a friend, and that will be in Jakarta.
The San Miguel Beermen won Game 1 and here I am, hoping for a sweep so that I can experience a championship celebration too.
|going to Jakarta|
I was so excited. I departed Bangkok together with a friend and proceeded to Jakarta, courtesy of ABL. So here I am excited to watch my team play live. And hoping they beat the Warriors.
We arrived at Jakarta at around 1am and we were picked at the airport and went straight to our hotel provide by ABL. The hotel was luxurious, a 5-star hotel where my favorite team is also housed. And each of us has his/her room.- a thousand thanks to ABL.
After a good night’s rest we headed for the buffet breakfast and met the players there. I also saw Coach Rajko Toroman, Philippine’s former national coach. We took photos and had a little chat with them. It was a great privilege, as a fan, to actually meet those guys. Since we live in one roof, we always bumped into the players in the lobby, in the elevator, and hallways. Froilan Baguion, San Miguel’s star point guard really took time in talking to us and entertained us-a very down to earth professional basketball player.
|with coaches Bobby Parks and Rajko Toroman|
with Froilan Baguion
After lunch we headed to the BritAma arena. After Irma, our liaison officer gave us our first class tickets, we immediately went in and watched the players during their warm up.
Finally the game started. We were quite nervous as we are really hoping for a San Miguel win. The crowd in the arena was so noisy. Indonesia crowd really support their team well. There were loud cheers, drums, and horns.
During the first quarter, it was a close fight. But as the game progresses, the lead of Warriors became bigger and bigger. And Brock and Pringle can’t be stopped anymore. So instead of celebrating in Jakarta, there will be another game, this time in the Philippines. And whoever wins that game will be the champion.
Although sad that my team didn’t win, at the same time, I was really grateful and glad to be able to experience an ABL final. The experience was really unforgettable.
We explored the city of Jakarta that night after the game as our time is limited. We are leaving the next day. We enjoyed our stay in Jakarta. We were able to explore the city and try local dishes.
|National Monument (Monas). Jakarta, Indonesia|
The next day, inevitably, was the time to go home. As we packed our things and waited for our driver to take us to the airport, I felt so pleased and so thankful for the wonderful, memorable experience that ABL had given unto us. We finally said good bye to some of the players and wished them luck for next week’s game.
I’d like to specially thank Irma, our liaison officer and Kuhan, ABL’s CEO for this trip. Thank you so much.