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An open letter to Kobe Bryant

Monday, November 30, 2015

Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times (file photo)
Dear Kobe,

In your first days in the NBA, it was (still) all about Michael Jordan, and eventually, he became my inspiration to pick up that big ball and place it inside a hole ten feet high.

Then MJ retired, and your prime came. At that time, my eyes were on a budding point guard named Gilbert Arenas.

I also set my sights on a young player named Carmelo Anthony. Apparently, I did not like you that time, and all I was looking at when the Lakers play that time was your "one-man show".

I admit; I tend to criticize your decisions to go all alone when you have four other players wearing either yellow, purple, or, a little later in your career, white open from other sides of the hardwood.

In fact, last year, I still put up one more Kobe criticism by inserting to my tweets a hashtag caption which was translated "because Kobe missed a lot" as a "tribute" to you being the player with the most number of missed shots.

I also made some takes about your five NBA rings. I said that you only won those championships because of having dominant bigs (Shaq and Pau), and I will still hold on to my opinion (one reason why I published this one in my blog instead in our start-up news site because I know my fellow staff members at Dugout PH will spark a debate with me, especially your tandem with Gasol).

But one thing I observed a lot whether online or by watching you on TV is the continuous comparison of you to Mike.

Why in the world is everyone thinking you're the next in line to Jordan or the next Jordan? Is it because your fadeaways and most of your other moves somewhat resemble that of Jordan?

If I have the loudest voice in the world, I would have shouted, "Stop comparing my basketball hero to Kobe!"

But here I am, making the most out of a holiday here in my native land writing this one. I even asked myself, "Why did I get an urge to jot this down?"

That was because of my utmost respect to you. Yes, I didn't like you, but it did not come down to a point where I hated you a lot.

Come on! Only a staunch Kobe hater was indifferent at the time you dropped 81 in 2006. I even remembered answering "Kobe 81" in a quiz contest during my college days which is not sports-themed at all because I had nothing to answer to a question.

I also remembered the time you made 12 triples. Your prime days may still not be as accurate from 24 feet as Steph Curry right now, but I can't remember the latter dropping that much long toms in a single game (although I actually believe he can).

But what I liked about you the more? Your response to the "calls". Like I mentioned, I criticized you a lot, but withstood all the tirades and worked your way to greatness, even overtaking MJ in the scoring list.

Eventually, I began to think, "Kobe can overtake Kareem," but then came the major injuries. And I, and many others, began to think, "The time is up."

Now, here you are, posting a poem declaring your intentions to retire next year. It is really hard to let go of playing the game which became part of your life.

Still, all the great things must come to an end. It may be tough because you will likely retire without tasting postseason basketball.

Don't worry, Mike retired missing out the playoffs in his swan song. But unlike your situation, the Wizards then put up a fight and your team is fast-tracking relegation and it somewhat saddened me.

My inner Jordan fan would say, "Bwahaha! You will badly miss the playoffs in your final season. At least Mike and DC were playoff contenders that time," but my journalist side would say, "You're really not the Kobe Bryant I used to see anymore, and your club is on a rebuild."

Indeed, I may have just seen your last stand. Probably, the only ways to relive your colorful prime years are through Youtube, Vine, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Now, my respect to you has grown more. You are truly a warrior.

You changed the NBA and even the game of basketball in general to what we now know about. You really deserve the "MJ treatment" he got in 2003.

Who knows? We might even see you in as soon as next year's Hall of Fame. Come on! You are more than qualified for an HOF spot.

I can actually say that our renewed love for basketball is mostly credited to you. You revolutionized it.

Thank you for your contributions in the game. Yes, I'm pretty sure there will be a "next Kobe Bryant" as per the media hype, but your unique game is something he won't emulate.

As you said in your own open letter, "My body knows it's time to say goodbye," but I think it's not a farewell but a hello to a new chapter of your life.

God bless on your next journey.

Sincerely yours,

A concerned basketball fan


What the "Ayo-Serye" taught me

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Letran will now have to defend its NCAA crown without Coach Aldin Ayo.
EVERYONE was hooked into the first game of the UAAP men's basketball finals between UST and FEU, but a report from Spin.PH's Snow Badua overshadowed all the hype of the said game and became the talk of the town on Wednesday night.

Badua revealed a surprise candidate for La Salle's new coach, and he happened to be from the north side of Taft.

Both the UAAP and the NCAA worlds got stunned when Letran coach Aldin Ayo was named as not just a candidate but a cinch as well for the head coaching job at the school's former rival. He even cited a source who said that Ayo is set to be named the new mentor, sparking the so-called "AyoSerye".

Then, many AlDub fans, especially those who don't have a knack in basketball, also got caught by surprise when the Letran mentor trended on Twitter, probably mistaking him for Alden Richards (Yes, I need to include this part). And Ayo trended even more when Rappler's Naveen Ganglani confirmed that Ayo is indeed La Salle-bound, citing a school source.

It somewhat gave me a dilemma that spilled over to a basketball league game I played later that night. "How come Ayo accepted La Salle's coaching job when he has not yet resigned as Letran's mentor? Is he gonna do a Roger Gorayeb (at one point, the veteran volleyball mentor coached UAAP's Ateneo and NCAA's San Sebastian at the same time)?"

The "patient" that we are, we at Dugout Philippines waited for a more official word, and it came early Thursday, when Letran's school paper, The Lance, confirmed on its Twitter account that Ayo did not just accept the La Salle job but resigned too as Letran coach as per team manager Ricky Paulino.

Then came Friday night, Letran's victory celebration. Many Letranites, from student to alumni, attended the formal congratulatory ceremony of the Knights for winning their 17th NCAA basketball title.

However, the celebration turned a bit sad when no less than Aldin Ayo confirmed that he indeed will leave the Knights for the Green Archers.

Ayo then debunked many myths that surrounded his transfer, from the lucrativeness of the contract (reportedly at PHP 9 million for three years) to the political factors (Ayo is also a councilman at a certain town in Sorsogon, while La Salle's chief backer, Danding Cojuangco, leads the Nationalist People's Coalition), and said that his decision was personal.

He concluded his farewell address by saying that he "will always be a Letranite."

So much for the long chronology of events, time to air my side of this "Ayo-Serye". I think I got some lessons from this shocking coaching rigodon.

I'm honest to say that I too was surprised with this move (admit it, La Sallians, some of you were surprised as well). As I mentioned above, I still can't get into the idea of seeing a coach doing chores for two teams at the same time.

Well, Ayo already confirmed that he will leave Letran, but still, seeing him go to another team after just one year of coaching the Knights even if it's not the Archers would be something I have to ponder for quite some time.

But the cool thing about Aldin Ayo at the times I covered his games is that he is somewhat soft-spoken like La Salle's incumbent mentor, Juno Sauler, so I expect the transition to be smooth.

Also, I believe that Ayo can turn Jeron Teng to the potential 2017 PBA first round pick many teams want and Larry Muyang to a more polished prototype of Jom Sollano.

But this Ayo-Serye opened my eyes to one harsh offseason reality. The said coaching change stemmed from La Salle's "win now" mentality.

In fact, I can't blame La Salle for this. After winning the title in 2013, the Archers went on a downward swing.

With other teams including UP, Adamson, some CESAFI teams, and even NAASCU champ CEU making a resurgence, La Salle needs to stay on course, thus, the outreach to Ayo, who a month ago steered Letran to the NCAA title.

Another thing, La Salle has a championship tradition dating back to the NCAA, and with a star-studded lineup featuring Teng, Prince Rivero, Andrei Caracut, and Josh Torralba (who once played in the NCAA for EAC) plus the anticipated arrival of Ben Mbala, who are you to blame the team management for thinking, "The time is now"?

However, this Ayo-Serye sparked an outrage over piracy, and another development happened when Mapua coach Atoy Co said that NCAA MVP Allwell Oraeme is being persuaded to move to a UAAP school. Mapuans got a sigh of relief when Oraeme declared that he wants to stay in Mapua.

I'm not saying there was a piracy here (after all, Ayo said he accepted the job for personal reasons), but I hope that this transfer trouble has to stop. Let the players decide their college future based on their personal beliefs.

What is amateur basketball then if luxuries are now being offered together with an athletic scholarship?

I am not in favor of professionalizing college basketball, but let's face it, we are slowly heading that path. Here's to hoping the prestige of amateur basketball of the yesteryear will make a comeback.


THE 10 ELECTRIFYING Emerging Blogs of 2015

Thursday, October 01, 2015

IT'S THAT time again! Digital Filipino, led by internet guru Janette Toral (Again, follow her on social media. Promise!), will honor ten websites that are making waves despite being relatively new. With that, I'm presenting my own list again. Here's my new site commendation.

1. Dugout Philippines-First, news sites like Rappler, a winner in the 2012 edition, can be nominated. Second, I am doing some sort of a website awards experiment. It looks like my experiment is a success. By the way, I'm the Assistant Managing Director for Operations of Dugout PH.

2. Runner Rocky-Aki Chua, who now wants to be known as Rocky Chua, is now into running. Thus, Runner Rocky.

3. Manila Concert Junkies-Melai Lee, who has always been a winner in this award, put up a concert blog.

Update: She clarified to me the name game, but there was no hard feeling.

4. The Lost Diaries-I only met Lou Ongpin last year, but she was that active in blogging. I even brought her to some events I usually cover.

5. Pinoy Secret Files-Thanks to The Elbi Files, "Secret Files" pages are everywhere. I even contributed at some of them (just find them hehe). So, PSF came to life too.

6. Pilipinas Daily-Again, news sites are eligible.

7. XOLXOL-Articles from this website have been in my timeline. So I believe many are into it.

8. 1M News Network-Just read my explanation for 1 and 6.

9. Bicol Bloggers-Another blogger group is on the loose, and the members hail from Bicol.

10. Girl Unspotted-I like the name of the blog.

This blog post is brought to you by the following:


On Snow Badua and press freedom

Monday, September 21, 2015

With the PBA season not even starting, Commissioner Chito Narvasa (R) imposed
a controversial ban on Snow Badua. Dennis Acosta/Dugout Philippines
BY THE time I am finishing this, the entire nation commemorates one of the most controversial rulings ever made by a president, the declaration of Martial Law in 1972. Ferdinand Marcos' "landmark" move 43 years ago put the press at the crossroads that time. Some publications closed shop, the remaining news outfits were kinda controlled by the government, and the people got used to seeing a bunch of pro-Marcos news while wondering about the latest in the protests everywhere.

Five presidents later, here comes this saga many PBA fans call the "AlPob PBA Serye". It all began when Abby Poblador guested on Mohan "Mo Twister" Gumatay and Mara Aquino's "Good Times With Mo" podcast. The PXC ring girl admitted during the podcast that she had an affair with a top PBA official. She described him as a "long-haired coach-turned-exec".

A day later, Gumatay guested on Snow Badua's radio program and further revealed more details about the said episode, which after the live broadcast was immediately shut down by TV5 because of the sensitivity of the topic (TV5 usually keeps the podcasts for on-demand viewing). Gumatay claimed that Poblador explicitly named Ginebra governor Alfrancis Chua about 15 times in the podcast and even insisted that she was a mistress of Chua. The former radio DJ and TV host, however, clarified that the model insisted on being asked with the so-called "forbidden questions" and that he doesn't usually ask the questions to people who are relatively strangers to him.

Things get a little more chippy over the weekend when Badua hit out at Chua for various resolutions he made when he assumed the post of San Miguel Corporation sports director. Badua cited through Twitter that Chua intervened on the office position Robert Jaworski was supposed to take at the Ginebra camp, hinting that the PBA legend wanted to become the club's coach again. The reporter also said that it was Chua who did not want the stars of the food conglomerate's three representing teams to join Gilas.

Nearly a week after the events of the said weekend, PBA commissioner Chito Narvasa dropped the executioner's ax on Badua by banning him, also a writer for Spin.PH, from all PBA-related activities and even requested the teams to refrain from interview requests by the reporter.

I asked some journalists about the said matter, and they had mixed reactions to the "Snow ban". For political blogger and radio host Noemi Dado, the ban was "not good. Chua could have just aired his side." Chua has actually yet to speak up about the allegations by Poblador and Badua.

My fellow writer at Dugout PH, Paolo Fule, said that the ban was indeed a huge blow to press freedom.

However, internet guru Janette Toral (You should follow her on social media. Most of the guys in the online community including yours truly look up to her. If not for her, Dugout, Spin, Rappler, Wazzup Pilipinas, When In Manila, and all the online portals you're seeing will not exist) gave a different take. She said, "Each one of us, including businesses, has the right to refuse anyone. Their actions or what they say we can't control. So [it's not a form of curtailing press freedom]."

On the other hand, Jerome Gatus, a former writer at Dugout PH, considered the "Snow storm" at Chua as libelous unless Badua can prove that he was right with his tweets. The current law student at San Beda, however, clarified that what Narvasa did was clearly a press freedom violation. I actually asked another fellow journo, but she has yet to comment.

Now, my take on this AlPob thing (probably the only time I'm gonna have a say on this). First, I know some of us are not liking Snow Badua's unorthodox style of reporting, but this is not the time to tell him, "Karma yan sa'yo!" In fact, I would like to thank the former "haters" who have earned the respect of Badua in this time. To be fair, though, I think he made a wrong move on tweeting those rants. However, the tweets shed a new light regarding the "club-over-country" matter during the Gilas buildup, but that's gonna be a different topic.

Meanwhile, although I respect Narvasa's decision, I think that the "no-interview" part was kinda harsh. After all, Badua's a journalist, and it's his job to ask the newsmakers whether on radio or online. Also, I think the decision was kinda rushed since Alfrancis Chua has yet to make a statement. Not to mention that it came at the height of the issue regarding his rumored affair with Poblador. That leads me to this: Why is Chua keeping mum regarding all the recent issues about him?

Going back to the "no-interview" clause, this could pose a challenge to all the journos, whether working or campus. What if someone also hit out at a PBA official through social media? Will he also be barred from interviewing everyone? Despite all the mistakes Badua did, Narvasa could have crossed the line with that clause. It's every journalist's right to interview newsmakers, and barring him from doing so is against press freedom. But again, as what Toral said, we don't have a say on Narvasa's decision, so we have to respect his decision for now.

My hope is that this "PBA Serye" will not go through the toughest of plot twists like going to court and end "happily ever after". I do hope as well that Snow will become a better journo and a man with the lessons he will learn from this turn of events. I also hope that this will serve as a challenge to my fellow writers as well. Let's practice that press freedom but also be responsible with that. If time comes that another martial law takes place, we might never enjoy that press freedom ever again.

PS: I don't want another martial law, so... #NeverAgain!


PBA Draft Analysis

Sunday, August 23, 2015

THEY already made the picks. Fifty-four gentlemen were chosen from a pool of 63 players in the PBA Draft at the Robinson's Place Manila. Now that the smoke has been cleared. Let's compare all the mock drafts and let's see if someone got it right. Here we go!

1-2. Talk 'n Text Tropang Texters-Moala Tautuaa; Mahindra Enforcers-Troy Rosario
Tautuaa photo by Nuki Sabio/PBA. Rosario's photo by Dennis Acosta
As expected, all the mock drafts got Tautuaa and Rosario right at one and two respectively. Well, their fate has been sealed one or two weeks before the draft, although Rosario's final destination is still yet to be known as he was rumored to be shipped to TNT.

3. Rain Or Shine-Maverick Ahanmisi
All the mock drafts were busted (partially on the part of Slam) come the third pick, but San Miguel, which has been the mock draft buster in recent years, opted not to make a draft day move. Rain Or Shine, though, has other plans. The E-Painters tabbed Maverick Ahanmisi ahead of the likes of Norbert Torres (Dugout,, and PBA Talks), Arth Dela Cruz (Rivals, Slam, and PBA Talks), and Chris Newsome (Interaksyon and PBA Talks). If you notice, I mentioned PBA Talks thrice in the parenthesized websites in which each pair of parentheses represents the online portals that had the said player at third. That's because the guy behind PBA Talks made three scenarios regarding the third pick. Still, all those mock drafts were busted. A footnote: Slam's Yoyo Sarmenta actually had Ahanmisi as a ROS pick, although it was the 12th pick.

4. Meralco-Chris Newsome
Only and PBA Talks (Scenarios 2 and 3) had Newsome at number four. On the other hand, ABSCBN commentator Enzo Flojo, who wrote his mock draft in Rivals, had Chris as a sleeper at fourth. It seemed like Coach Norman Black went for the best player available in this one. It so happened that he chose a former Ateneo Blue Eagle in this one.

5. Ginebra-Scottie Thompson, Interaksyon, Slam, and PBA Talks (Scenario 3) had the reigning NCAA MVP Scottie Thompson at number five, so we can safely say that most of us look forward to seeing the King Alta in the kit of the "people's club" (Oh hi, Global FC!)

6. NLEX-Garvo Lanete, Rivals, Interaksyon, and PBA Talks (Scenario 2) had Lanete at number six. Jutt Sulit actually had a good argument about going for Norbert Torres at sixth considering Asi Taulava's age, but NLEX was really keen on bringing in one of its players when the club was still in the D-League.

7. Meralco-Baser Amer
While three mock drafts, including my own that can be seen on Dugout, had Meralco going for Baser Amer, only Slam's Carlo Pamintuan (four writers--Sarmenta, Sulit, Pamintuan, and Polo Bustamante--collaborated for Slam's mock draft) correctly "guessed" Amer to be seventh (Dugout and Interaksyon's mock drafts had Amer at fourth). Let's just say Black just can't pass up on Newsome but got surprised Ginebra and NLEX (and even ROS) passed up on Amer.

8. Star-Norbert Torres
Flojo hit the jackpot as his mock draft was the only one that had Torres at number eight. Although he was chosen three picks after the San Miguel umbrella's first pick (Ginebra's fifth pick), it seems like the fact that Torres played for La Salle, which is bankrolled by San Miguel Corp. head honcho Danding Cojuangco, played some sort of a factor in this one (not to mention the fact that five clubs passed up on him). The acquisition also means that the returning Ian Sangalang will now have a backup at center.

9. Blackwater-Arth Dela Cruz
Almost all of the mock drafts went for Ahanmisi at ninth (Dugout had Josan Nimes, while Slam had Roi Sumang and PBA Talks considered Ryan Wetherell in its third scenario), but with ROS choosing him at third,... just backread at the opening sentence of the Ahanmisi part. Anyway, Blackwater went for (and direly needed) the best player available. The Elite need a franchise anchor, and they are hoping that it will be the point forward from San Beda.

10. NLEX-Glenn Khobuntin
No mock draft got the tenth pick right. However, I had Khobuntin as a sleeper in my mock draft for Dugout. Here's my explanation about having Khobuntin as a sleeper: If you look back at Sulit's explanation about going for Torres at sixth, my case was similar to that (I had Bradwyn Guinto), but I also assumed that Taulava could opt to stay in the PBA for a little more time. Well, my assumption of Guinto getting picked earlier did not happen (he slipped to the second round), but I was still not surprised that they passed him up for Khobuntin. NLEX got a swingman who can drive hard to the basket with his wide body but can also score from mid-range. Not to mention that he was a breakout star in the SEA Games campaign of the Gilas Cadets.

11. Alaska-Kevin Racal
The other big surprise of the PBA Draft. Alaska also went against the flow of the mock drafts and chose K-Racs, a projected second round pick by and Interaksyon (Flojo included Racal in a long list of potential sleepers and probable second rounders at the end of his mock draft slideshow), at 11th. As far as I can remember, the last time the Aces went for a surprise pick in the first round, he turned out to be some sort of a bust (he goes by the name Ryan Buenafe). Here's to hoping Alaska made the right move.

12. Rain Or Shine-Josan Nimes
Rivals and PBA Talks got it right. ROS again went for the best player available and selected Nimes. However, that means another scoring machine for the Paul Lee-paced squad. Will they make a good tandem? We'll find out soon.

Conclusion: Enzo Flojo, with five picks and one sleeper right, is the winner of the mock draft derby. Meanwhile, I am the biggest loser of the derby, only getting the locks and Khobuntin as sleeper correct. On the other hand, PBA Talks' mock draft is the best mock draft because of the three-scenario setting.

Biggest Winner: Talk 'n Text-I considered Mahindra in this one, but the trade rumors are still there, so I made that a factor in making TNT the winner of the draft.

Biggest Loser: Roi Sumang-Although I think all the teams made good picks in the first round of the PBA Draft, they curiously passed up on Roi Sumang. Even worse, he was even snubbed in the second round. He ended up with GlobalPort in the third round (technically, it was the Batang Pier's first-rounder as they did not participate in the first two rounds). It's now up to the King Warrior to prove he belongs.

PS: Tiebreaker Times also made a mock draft, but the mock draft could not be accessed as of posting.

Unless otherwise noted, all photos are courtesy of Dennis Acosta of Dugout.

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