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Chai talks about Under Armour's support for grassroots basketball programs

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Under Armour made a pledge to support the rising stars of Philippine basketball through a partnership with the NBTC for the recently held national final.

Adrian Chai, the Chief Marketing Officer for Under Armour Southeast Asia, told the press more about UA and the tie-up with the program aiming to further improve the high school basketball scene.

Press (P)-Under Armour is new to the Philippines. What has been the response so far to the brand and the product?

Adrian Chai (C)-The response so far has been tremendous especially with the rise of the brand in the USA. In particular, the basketball, compression attire and running range has gained quite significant traction with the technologies built in such as new "Charged Cushioning" and footwear being made and developed in a bra factory. What has been interesting is that the women's range has taken traction quite well with many athletes and personalities trying and feeling the difference technology products has to offer. 

P-Who are the Under Armour's Brand Ambassadors outside Steph Curry? Are there plans for local athletes?

C-There are already quite a number of athletes that Under Armour has recently signed up from Tennis star Andy Murray to the greatest Olympian and medalist Michael Phelps. We have also non sporting athletes that exemplify the Will to succeed and overcome such as Ballerina Misty Copeland and Super Model and mother Gisele Bundchen. 

Looking toward the Philippines, we have also local athletes such as Gretchen Ho and Johan Aguilar. Apart from them there are also very known personalities like Piolo Pascual and Senator Pia Cayetano, who are avid fans and athletes who actively compete and train. 

P-How did the UA come around to sponsoring the NBTC? How did you find the All-Star Game and the NBTC Finals?

C-We were working through Coach Eric on some programs which may include involving up and coming basketball stars. Looking at the rise of basketball and the love for the game in the Philippines, it was a great opportunity for us to show our support for up and coming players just like the way they do it in the USA with the Elite 24 program. 

P-What's next for UA with regards to local sports?

C-We are constantly looking to find synergies with different sports to work with the brand. It is however also important that we do not digress from the core competency of our apparel that involves training and our key sporting categories. We will embark on come exciting programs in basketball and also involve locals in our latest Earn Your Armour challenge where Filipinos across the country can join up and as a community to engage and train using Under Armour's recently acquired fitness tracking app Endomondo. We will tie this in with local on ground activation called Armour@The Fort where fans of the brand and others can join in and train up with our partner gyms and trainers.


Love for kids, memory of uncle inspires Alamo to support charity fun run in Alabang

Friday, March 20, 2015

Kat Alano (second from the left) showed her support for High Miles
for the Children fun run.
Actress Kat Alano expressed her full support for High Miles for the Kids, a fun run for the benefit of the St. Rita Orphanage, and a childhood experience pushed her to do so.

In the pre-race press conference at the Azumi Boutique Hotel on Friday, Alano revealed a story about a relative diagnosed with cerebral palsy, something she was reminded of after finding out that some of the children in the orphanage have the said sickness.

"The fact that they have two children with cerebral palsy was a very big deal for me because I have an uncle actually who's already in his 60's who was born with cerebral palsy," she relayed.

Alano also said that she loves kids so much that when she was called by Belle Belarmino, the head of Big House Production, the lead organizer of the run, she never hesitated to say yes in promoting the event.

"The children are very close to my heart," the actress continued.

Meanwhile, Belarmino admitted that she was deeply concerned about the orphanage's expenses, eventually pushing her to come up with the fun run.

"Na-shock ako noong [nalaman ko na] PHP300 thousand ang kanilang month expenses, and that's very, very costly," Belarmino said, vowing part of the proceeds of the future Big House events will be donated to St. Rita.

The High Miles for the Children will take place on May 3 at the Filinvest City in Muntinlupa.

There will be a 5K, 10K, and a 16K run in the said event. Registration fees are at PHP400, PHP500, and PHP700 respectively.

For registration inquiries, call 09272825654, 09098932494, or 09264789248.


An "arrow" to the knee

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Marc Diputado (first row, center left) was all smiles during the NBTC
All-Star Game, but in the final later in the day, he grimaced in pain.
The past few days have been defined by knee injuries. In fact, there were three instances that occurred in the last five days. I witnessed all of them, and I found them very ugly especially that they all happened in playoff games.

Every time I see someone getting hurt in the leg during a soccer match, I find it a usual scene. Not to mention the possibility of someone returning from an ACL injury ahead of schedule (e.g., Pao Bugas). But in sports where handball is legal like basketball and volleyball, a knee injury is a nasty sight.

Now, the chronology of events. On Saturday, La Salle clinched the other UAAP women's volleyball finals berth against NU, but Ara Galang injured her knee late in the match. An MRI checkup at the Makati Medical Center revealed tears on her ACL, MCL, and meniscus, abruptly ending her collegiate career and probably dropped her draft value by a dramatic rate come the 2016 PSL Draft.

I opted to cover the UFL that night, but the day later, I saw a knee injury right by my naked eye, and it happened in a do-or-die basketball championship showdown. In one moment of the NBTC Final between San Beda and Sacred Heart, Marc Diputado was fouled hard, and he went crashing to the press area--right near me. Trying to evade me, he tweaked his knee. He never returned in the game, and his Red Cubs fell to the Magis Eagles. One factor seen here was the fatigue factor since he also played in the All-Star Game earlier Sunday.

While we, the journalists there, were writing our own reports, Rick Olivares joked to us saying that I "steered" Sacred Heart to the win. While I wanted to laugh, I really had no idea how to react with the joke because I thought I was partly to blame for Chami's injury. I apologized to Diputado on Twitter, something I failed to do personally because I was still in shock.

Then, as I was moving on from the Chami Diputado incident, here came Camille Cruz's right ACL and LCL tear. Like the Galang injury, it came late in La Salle's Finals Game 1 loss to Ateneo. I later found out that three years ago, Cruz had an ACL tear on her other knee. Her latest ACL injury finally prompted me (I thought of writing this right after the NBTC Final) to write this.

Let's face it. Basketball and volleyball have evolved tremendously in the Philippines. Now, point guards like Diputado do daredevil drives ala Derrick Rose (who is beginning to pile up knee injuries as well) more often, and open hitters like Galang and Alyssa Valdez spike from way back. Simply put, the legs have become important tools in sports where you need your hands to score.

From there, I got this fear of having my own ACL injury while playing basketball. In fact, I skipped my leg day at the gym all because of a simple hamstring pain (and that's just a mild thigh injury).

All I hope now is that there will never be another knee injury on Saturday, when Ateneo will try to close out the series. I want to see everyone healthy and playing until the match point. Regardless of the eventual result, I pray that the match will not be dictated by another ACL injury.


Cheering your opponents?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

From replies by Ultras Kaya members, the discussion about non-fans cheering for
a particular team in an international competition made rounds in social media.
There was an intriguing thread at a soccer-related Facebook group that I am a part of which made me deliver this blog post. A fellow journo, TV5's Ryan Fenix, posted his preview of the Global-South China AFC Cup tie with a question pointing to the Ultras Kaya, the booster group of Global's UFL rival Kaya. Some Ultras members answered and, as expected, said no. The discussion on whether the Kaya fans in general should cheer for Global has since been a convo in other FB groups (Fenix later deleted the thread in the said group). The question: Should fans of a team cheer for its rival in an international club competition?

While PBA teams take part in international club games, the highest being the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, I haven't heard of a team's official persuading the fans of the other teams to cheer for the club. Meanwhile, this is the first time a UFL team made it to the AFC Cup, the Asian equivalent of the UEFA Europa League. So you can't blame some goal junkies persuading the soccer fans, whether Global fans or not, to support Global. However, Global is not the Azkals (although we all know that the core of Global composes of past and present national team players). Everyone can unite if it's the national team playing, but a club tournament is a radically different thing.

You can't force a Purefoods fan to cheer for Ginebra. Likewise, you can't force a Systema fan to cheer for IEM (while women's volleyball is the more hyped game, men's volleyball has just built a professional league rivalry in the Systema-IEM rivalry). The same goes in this scenario. You can't force a Kaya fan to cheer for Global, especially when you consider him as "hardcore". But then again, Global is in the AFC Cup and Kaya is not, so I can't blame everyone for the persuasion and the stand.

However, I liked how the owners of Global's rivals, Kaya, Loyola, Stallion, Socceroo, and Green Archers, showed up in that match, which South China won, 6-1. After all, they shed off the domestic rivalry and supported Global in its maiden voyage in the continental level. There is still too much to learn in the Asian game, for the athletes and the fans. But the future is bright for Philippine soccer, and not even a certain issue about fans will stop the progress.


Is Manny Pacquiao really PBA material?

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Nuki Sabio/PBA (file photo)
It all started days before the PBA Draft, when a champion boxer decided to take his talents (at a too old age for a rookie aspirant) to the league. Then, he accepted the role as the playing coach of a new club. As expected, he would be drafted by the said club, although another team almost swung a trade for him. His busy boxing career limited his rookie season to only one preseason and four regular-season games.

In the recent game, he scored his first-ever pro basketball point, and his team won against a squad which achieved a grand slam last year. One of the opponent's players, apparently reeling from the huge upset loss, uttered offensive remarks against the said boxer, calling him a joke. You know the two players I'm talking about, and that's where this blog post will focus on.

If not for Daniel Orton's post-game rants, we would have forgotten already that Manny Pacquiao is in the PBA. Well, I can't blame you if you can't recall anything because he only played in a total of FIVE outings averaging 0.4 ppg (0.3 ppg in the regular season). However, the question that has been asked all around the basketball world was raised up to a higher level when Orton called Manny the baller a joke. A fellow sports media practitioner, Chino Trinidad, who follows Pacquiao's boxing and now his basketball career too, expressed his sentiments regarding that, and he boldly claimed that Manny is not a basketball material at all. So, what's my stand about this?

Well, everyone has the right to declare for the PBA Draft. I said in a previous write-up a year ago to give Manny a chance to show his inner baller. By logic, I can declare for the draft too. But that doesn't mean someone is good enough to join.

Everyone has limits in his play, and I acknowledge that. When I played in the Master Game Face Media Challenge on my birthday, I could not even hold on to a Kevin Ferrer pass, something I can do if my friends will pass me that kind of pass. Meaning, Ferrer is on a different level in the passing end than my friends, and so is our receiving skills. Remember, K-Fer can declare for the PBA Draft this year, although I believe he will play his final year at UST. So that's a PBA-level pass.

If I acknowledge my limits, so should Manny Pacquiao. I'm sorry, Manny, but I have to agree with Sir Chino. OK, you can play basketball (even Floyd Mayweather can play basketball as per his IG videos), but with the way you're playing in the PBA, that's not what we expect from a PBA-ready rookie. I can boldly say that Manny Pacquiao is not a PBA material.

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