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La Salle overcomes Adamson to get first win in Season 82

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The De La Salle University Men’s Football Team may have had a poor first half once again but it found a way to seal the win in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament.

Goals from Franck Anoh and Mikio Umilin turned the debacle around and gave the Green Archers their first win, a 2-1 result, at the expense of the Adamon Soaring Falcons, Sunday evening at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

Down a goal in the first half from Adamson’s Bryce Rabino, it took La Salle a lot of persistence to seize the victory. Rookie striker Franck Anoh leveled the contest at the 52nd minute when he rebounded John Rhey Lagura’s initial attempt.

With the game level, Umilin rose to the occasion when he intercepted the ball right outside the Soaring Falcons’ box, beat his defender and shot at a tight angle at the 64th minute.

The result maintains La Salle’s unbeaten run this season and it now has 4 points after two matches.

A win is a win. Three points are three points. That’s the most important (thing). Then the next game is (against University of the Philippines). Let’s see what happens,” said coach Hans-Peter Smit.

Up next for La Salle is a date against UP on March 12, 2020, 8:00 AM at the same venue.

Andres Rafael Aldeguer takes home Rookie of the Year gong in UAAP Season 82 Juniors Football

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Another Aldeguer has made waves representing the Green and White in the UAAP.

Just like Dino, his dad, and Boris, his uncle, Andres Rafael is living up to his family’s tradition of being varsity athletes for La Salle.

However, unlike the former duo who have made their names on the basketball court, he has opted to strive for glory on the football pitch.

In the recently concluded UAAP Season 82 Juniors Football Tournament, Andres Rafael contributed five goals to help the De La Salle Zobel Junior Archers finish at 3rd place this year and his performances earned him the Rookie of the Year award.

As a second year student in De La Salle Zobel, Andres Rafael has two more years to play in the Juniors Division. He stands at 6’1 and plays as a striker for the Junior Archers.

Only time will tell but the day may come when Andres Rafael leads La Salle to a UAAP title just like how his father Dino did back in 1999 courtesy of his Hail Mary three with only five seconds on the clock left against UST.

Lady Spikers’ blueprint: blocking, reception, and balanced scoring

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If you squint your eyes a little bit yesterday, you could see glimpses of past La Salle greats in the way the Lady Spikers moved and decimated the Ateneo Lady Eagles at the Mall of Asia Arena.

There was 6’2 Thea Gagate channeling her inner Jacq Alarca, Mika Reyes, and Majoy Baron and winding up with 10 points, five coming off kill blocks. Opposite spiker Leila Cruz’s approach on offense reminds fans and supporters of another La Salle-Zobel alumnae in Kim Kianna Dy.

Baby Jyne Soreño, the lefty who produced eight points off the bench, is in the mold of a Carol Cerveza. A “magic bunot” that coach Ramil de Jesus can count on to provide instant offense.

Justine Jazareno, meanwhile, showed flashes of brilliance, reminiscent of our past liberos in Melissa Gohing and Dawn Macandili. The former UAAP juniors finals MVP tallied a game-high 14 digs.

All four are part of this year’s crack batch of eight rookies that not only aims to give fresh blood to the La Salle seniors volleyball team but also seeks to put the Lady Spikers back into the finals after missing out last year.

The fab four are skilled and even taller than their previous counterparts. But one notable advantage going for them is that, because of the K-12 basic education program, most of them have been ingrained with the Lady Spikers system for several years now.

Imagine being trained and molded by coach Ramil and his staff to look, play, and execute the way past generations of Lady Spikers have for the past 23 years; a system that has so far produced 11 UAAP championships.

A defense-first mentality: 10-6 edge in blocks, 32-14 advantage in reception and a balanced attack wherein five players scored eight or more points is just the right formula that the team needs to jumpstart its redemption bid.

Leadership
Aside from tall, lean, and talented players, La Salle is also known to produce high quality leaders who personify RDJ inside the court. Senior Tin Tiamzon, who put together a triple-double of 17 points, 12 digs, and 13 receives, is the next senior “ate” in the long line of DLSU greats.

Together with team captain Aduke Ogunsanya, the two super-seniors provided the experience, guidance, and direction that the team’s rookies needed in a match in front of 12,907 screaming fans.

Room for improvement
Opening day jitters and playing in a large venue with a boisterous crowd certainly played big roles in La Salle committing an eye-popping 33 errors.

“Nagkaroon ng first-game jitters pero nakita naman natin na kahit mga bata yung players namin, na (minsan) nakikita mong nawawala, nakakabalik din,” explained de Jesus.

The Lady Spikers committed 10, 9, and 11 miscues in the first three sets but cleaned their act in the fourth frame to notch win number 1 in UAAP Season 82 and stretch their winning streak against Ateneo to five games. While they may look spectacular yesterday, expect the girls to polish their offense and defense in the next few games.

DLSU will next face the UP Lady Maroons on Tuesday, March 10, also at the MoA Arena. It is the same Katipunan-based team that coach Ramil de Jesus and his squad failed to beat in two games last season, so expect an even more inspired performance by the Lady Spikers.

Animo La Salle!

Diamante Spares La Salle’s Blushes with Late Penalty in Season-Opener Against FEU

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The De La Salle University Men’s Football Team may not have started its UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament campaign with a win but it demonstrated its never-say-die personality.

Against a championship contender in the shape of the FEU Tamaraws, the Green Archers secured a 1-1 stalemate, Thursday afternoon at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila. The result gives both schools a point each in the standings.

Veteran midfielder Jed Diamante converted an 86th minute penalty to equalize for La Salle after substitute forward Akim Dalam was brought down in the FEU box. Diamante’s goal cancelled out the wonder strike by Tamaraws forward Geri Martini Rey at the 13th minute.

“We still have quite a young team. I’m satisfied with the one point. One point is better than zero points considering that we were, for 80 percent of the game, catching up,” said La Salle coach Hans-Peter Smit.

Up next for La Salle is a date against Adamson University on March 8, 2020, 4:00 PM at the same venue.

Lady Spikers Are Ready for Redemption

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“Gano’n talaga–dumarating naman sa isang team na kapag na-reach mo ‘yung dulo, posible kang bumagsak. Hindi naman lahat ng panahon, nasa taas ka.”

For the DLSU Lady Spikers, Season 82 of the UAAP began on May 5, 2019.

Ramil De Jesus was being interviewed in the bowels of the Mall of Asia Arena minutes after his team dropped a five-set thriller to UST which ended any hope of a fourth consecutive title. The 11-time champion coach managed to thank team captain Desiree Cheng for playing out her final year, saying that the Lady Spikers probably wouldn’t have made the Final Four if not for her leadership. He sang praises to league MVP Sisi Rondina and Golden Tigresses Coach Kungfu Reyes, who in turn called him a “living legend in Philippine volleyball.”

From the tears of the players to the tone of the post-game interviews, the disappointment was palpable, and for good reason: A decade that saw La Salle win six championships while producing some of the best volleyball players in the country ended in unfamiliar territory: crashing out in the Final Four and missing the Finals.

Despite the disappointment, however, De Jesus was able to put the past season in perspective, a year that saw the Lady Spikers finish third in the elimination round and miss the UAAP Finals for the first time since Season 70. There is always the possibility of failure. You can’t always be on top.

And he understood that with the departure of some of their players, the next season will once again be a challenge for a program that has made a habit out of winning in the last decade. After admitting the difficulties the team encountered during the season, De Jesus, who will be entering his 23rd year as La Salle’s head coach, issued a challenge to the team’s new recruits:

“After naming ma-realize na mahirap nga, nagsimula na kaming mag-recruit agad. Sana ‘yung nakita nila this season, hindi maging rason para panghinaan sila ng loob, at makita nila na kailangan nilang mag-excel para iangat ‘yung team sa mga susunod na UAAP seasons.”

Even then, he understood that the climb back to the top will be difficult, and that if they were to succeed, they will rely on their youth. And almost a year after their Final Four defeat, La Salle fans and the rest of the UAAP will have a chance to see if the team’s young players can respond to his challenge.

Outlook:

The recruitment De Jesus was referring to has produced a crop of talented players that are ready to join team captain Aduke Ogunsanya and veterans Tin Tiamzon, Michelle Cobb, and CJ Saga, as well as sophomores Jolina Dela Cruz and Marionne Alba. The team will be parading eight rookies, which is probably unusual to some who are accustomed to seeing the team’s roster filled with battle-tested veterans.

Among them is 6-foot-2 Thea Gagate, a former Best Middle Blocker from her days with the NU-Nazareth School, 5-foot-11 middle blocker Fifi Sharma from FEU-Diliman, as well as a couple of homegrown players from DLSZ in 6-foot opposite hitter Leila Cruz and libero Justine Jazareno, the Finals MVP of the UAAP Season 81 girls’ tournament.

Ogunsanya, Tiamzon, and the team’s veterans will need to lead by example following the departures of Cheng, Des Clemente, and May Luna and Norielle Ipac, who both chose to forego their final year of eligibility. Dela Cruz, in particular, will be thrust in a bigger role after a stellar rookie season that saw her lead the Lady Spikers in scoring.

But despite a good showing from Dela Cruz, there were times last season when the team was unable to produce points when needed, especially during their playoff battles against the Tigresses. This year, the task falls on their veterans to answer this challenge.

But as good as the team’s holdovers are, much of the team’s success will be decided by the rookies and how quickly they can adjust to their roles. Can Gagate and Cruz continue their success at the seniors level? How quickly can Jazareno adjust to her shift to libero? Can their other rookies crack the rotation? De Jesus already revealed his hand during the team’s run to the UniGames title in Iloilo last October, when it was Gagate and Cruz who joined forces with Dela Cruz and Tiamzon to beat the CSB Lady Blazers in the title game, but whether it will translate to the UAAP remains to be seen.

There’s a reason why De Jesus specifically challenged his new recruits moments after their most disappointing season in the last decade. The La Salle coach already had his eyes on the future and knew even then that for his team to return to the top, the team’s young players will need to do a lot of the lifting.

Redemption Begins Here: The Lady Spikers begin Season 82 with a clash against defending champion Ateneo this Saturday, March 7, 4:00 p.m. at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Season 81 Summary: 10-4; 3rd place; finished third in the elimination round; lost to UST in playoff for second twice-to-beat advantage; lost to UST in Final Four to miss the UAAP Finals for the first time since Season 70.

Additions: Alister Borabo, Julia Coronel, Leila Cruz, Marite Espina, Thea Gagate, Justine Jazareno, Fifi Sharma, Baby Jane Soreno

Key Departures: Desiree Cheng, Des Clemente, May Luna, Rovena Instrella, Norielle Ipac

Holdovers: Marionne Alba, Michelle Cobb, Jolina Dela Cruz, Aduke Ogunsanya (team captain), CJ Saga, Tin Tiamzon

Smit, DLSU, Aim to Go All The Way in UAAP Men’s Football

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If there is one person who has seen it all in the UAAP, from those sweet championships and painful defeats, then it has to be long-time DLSU Football mentor Hans-Peter Smit.

The incoming UAAP Season 82 Men’s Football Tournament will be no different for Smit as he and the rest of the DLSU Men’s Football Team seek to bring home the championship, which has eluded the school since 1998.

Last season was about breaking new ground with a young team that contained as much as 13 rookies, which ended up with a dream run to the finals. While the season ended painfully in a loss to Ateneo for all the marbles, the players have already turned a new leaf from that chapter.

The players are in good spirits. (There is) no need for them to feel any pressure about last year because that will only put undue pressure,” quipped Smit.

To prepare for the upcoming campaign, the team has joined preseason tournaments like the Ang Liga to shape up and become match fit. It also welcomed the addition of newcomers who are expected to be ready when they step on the pitch.

(The) rookies are coping fairly well. There’ll be some that will be contributing a great deal. They will not be plugging any holes instead they will be adding more depth to the team,” explained Smit.

Notable players from last season who are not part of the team this season include last season’s Rookie of the Year awardee Shanden Vergara, forward Xavi Zubiri and goalkeeper Gab Villacin. While these losses are big, Smit prefers to focus on the materials he has in his disposal.

Like I always say, anybody in the team can and will contribute. There is no one player who will cover for anyone who has left the team,” he shared.

La Salle’s campaign in Season 82 commences on March 5, 2020, 1:30 PM against the FEU Tamaraws. It will be another long season ahead for Smit and the whole team and a good start to it is important if they want to hit the ground running towards redemption.

My expectations are to be in the finals and redeem last year’s disappointment. The team just needs to be more confident in their abilities and capabilities and never stop supporting each other and continue with our battle cry of ‘Start Strong and Finish Stronger’,” concluded Smit.

Excited About Volleyball? Not Just Yet

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The De La Salle community is pregnant with anticipation lately. Of course, our main sports agenda is women’s volleyball. Looooooong delayed. By a “phantom” viral threat allegedly started by a coughing spree. Hahaha. Bahala sila.

But hold your horses. Put that aside first, controversy and all. The PBA D League Collegiate Conference just started and the De La Salle Green Archers just unvailed a new team. A sky scraping team. A tireless defensive team.

Of course. What did you expect? You get a guy named Pumaren to coach you and if you expected otherwise, your as dumb as a doornail.

And we got the Pumaren who gave us our first UAAP championship and our first three peat. No I didn’t make a mistake. That third championship was won on the court. That’s a three peat. Taking it away from us was a boardroom decision wasn’t it? Again, bahala sila. Hahaha.

You can see that the team framework is now there. I actually saw glimpses of the recent champions, the Ateneo Blue Eagles.

Well the other side might cringe on this statement. “Yeah right” I can just see them react, to which I will reply “just wait”. Hahaha. Controversy this early. Don’t you miss it?

Seriously, though, my statement is just basketball look based, nothing to demean them nor hype us up. Well not yet. November is still a long ways out and Jo Mari Chan is still on vacation with Santa Claus.

The statement emphasizes our defensive look. It is now more aggressive. It involves a lot of the signature Pumaren press, but more importantly, the aggressive defensive guards can now gamble on double teams, steal attempts, and trapping.

Why? Just like Ateneo, we now have a backline presence who can stop the ball at the rim, to allow our aggressive guards to recover on defense if the trap doesn’t initially work.

First of course is our foreign player, Hamadou Ndiaye. Initially, he is not as efficient a shot blocker as Kouame, but he still stops the ball and changes shots at the rim. Well he had two blocks and a double double game. But he is an effective defensive rebounder and this now goes to our next improved look. Fastbreaking.

Yes it’s back. The difference of this year’s fastbreak to last year’s is it’s origin. Our fastbreak now comes from a defensive stop. Last year, it was merely to speed up the game. In other words, our team now has structure and identity. Defense fuels our offense.

This look is important to our personnel now. It allows our very talented defensive guards to shine. Primarily, Joshua David and Jordan Bartlett. And we didn’t even use Kurt Lojera.

I am telling you boldly right now. This triumvirate of guards will give us championships. That’s as bold a statement as can be. Really.

And what about Kameron Vales? Hahaha. Watch out!!!! In the local parlance “sukat na sukat pa ang laro”. Bold prediction number 2. We have our next Mike Cortez!! Misdirection, shovel passing, three point shooting, press breaking, C’mon!!! You can’t see it?

The net effect now is that everybody is now playing relaxed. Performance is now balanced. Look at the box scores. Aljun Melecio is now exclusively playing off guard, allowing him to come off screens instead of dribbling to create.

Justin Baltazar also, is almost exclusively playing the four spot. He, together with Melecio, will enjoy a banner year this season. Both of them are free to wreak havoc and have enough bench time to be effective at the end game.

Our three spot is now very solid and tall with Glue men Joaqui Manuel, Ralph Cu, and even Tyrus Hill, who is now in shape.

And there are a couple of names still anticipated to contribute heavily to our future campaigns. Let’s hold that information for the time being.

Guys, temper your excitement. We are not there yet. For instance, allowing an import less and Muyang less Letran Knights 90 points and late game fightbacks show that the machine is still not well oiled. Coach Pumaren said so and he’s right.

But make no mistake about it. What we have now is top class machinery. It’s in the hands now of our machine operators. They have a lot of time to get used to the controls. Let them.

In the meantime, we have another class A machinery about to be unveiled this week. Very very young and promising. But make no mistake about it. That machine operator does not need to get used to the controls. He designed it. And to their haters and bashers, BAHALA KAYO.

Exciting times ahead. Good luck Green Archers and Lady Spikers. Animo La Salle.

Dream Come True: Four Rookies Set to Raise their Bows as Green Archers

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Every season in the UAAP, excitement grows when it comes to the neophytes who will experience their baptism of fire in the league. They may have been stars in high school but college ball is a whole different animal to deal with.

 

The DLSU Men’s Football Team is no different. As a squad that seeks to go one better in Season 82, new individuals are needed to freshen a lineup that narrowly missed out on a long overdue championship the previous year.

 

These players are defenders French Edward Talaroc and John Paul Josheb Bengay, goalkeeper James Edward Suarez Blanco and forward Ealhwine Jehoiakim Dalam.

 

Adjusting to Life as Part of the Green and White

 

Choosing what college to go to as a student-athlete in high school can be one of the most daunting decisions one can take in their lifetime. There so many things to consider such as academics, playing time and even the culture of the school.

 

One thing, though, that was apparent with the four rookies is that they themselves fulfilling a dream by being given the chance to wear that fabled La Salle shirt on the pitch.

 

I feel happy because I was given a chance to play for my dream school. I feel also pressured in terms of the expectation of the coaches and teammates on how can we help this team for this season. Pressures because only four of us rookies out of 13 have been selected to be part of the roster. Excited because this is the first time that I’ll be playing in the college team” said Bengay.

 

Being new members of a team can always be intimidating at first. Aside from whatever traditions there are in the squad, such as rookies having their heads shaved, it is important for newbies and holdovers to build rapport with each other.

 

Dalam explained, “It went well actually because the seniors are being nice to us when it comes to training and studies (as well as) even outside the field. They are always reminding us of our responsibilities and duties as rookies and they are also good examples in leading the great team. Sometimes it is us rookies who’re making bad decisions that affect the team because sometimes we’re not organized but somehow our seniors are always there to help us.”

 

It is inevitable, though, for cliques to emerge within a group. In the end, some members are more comfortable with each other compared to others. However, that is one concern that is absent from the DLSU Men’s Football Team

 

I feel great na lagi kaming buo as a team and di namin pinapabayaan ang isa’t-isa at enjoy lang,” shared Talaroc.

 

While they may have their specific talents to show on the pitch, the four rookies understand that they also have to make the most out of life outside of it. Life as a student-athlete is hard but it is a fulfilling endeavor.

 

The major difference is La Salle is more focused on academics,” opined Blanco.


What They Are All About

 

Lasallians can expect that the four rookies are capable of having an instant impact for the team this coming Season 82. In fact, all of them are very eager to show the community what they are all about.

 

With how easy it is to watch international teams and athletes thanks to the internet, it should come as no surprise that international stars serve as inspiration for aspiring competitors around the world. “I’m a defender and I play like Sergio Ramos, a player that the team can rely on,” said Talaroc.

 

For Bengay, the other defender in the group, it is about remaining as no-frills but as effective as possible during a game. “My playing style is simple. I’m not too fast but every time I play I use my head instead of pressure. My position is left-back. I can contribute to the team in every practice and game. I will do my best to be a better player and to be a good teammate.  

 

Similar to Talaroc, Blanco takes inspiration from some of the best players in the world for his position. “I’m a goalkeeper and my playing style is like Ederson Moraes and Manuel Neuer. I can distribute the ball quickly and accurately and I’m more of a sweeper-keeper.” 

 

While Talaroc, Bengay and Blanco are helping out in defence, Dalam is more focused on having an impact in the opposition’s half of the pitch. With the exit of Shanden Vergara and Xavi Zubiri, the rookie has much to live up to this year.

 

My style is different but I am trying to connect to the team. I do a lot of dribbling, tikitaka, and passing but mostly engaging in a one-on-one situation. I’m playing attacking forward and I think I can bring a lot to the team since I have a lot of experience and lessons from my previous teams and I can contribute also scoring opportunities for my teammates,” said Dalam

 

Looking forward to what lies ahead

 

Their first shot at making their debut in the UAAP is against FEU. That game will be played on March 5, 2020, 1:30 PM at the Rizal Memorial Stadium in Manila.

 

As players with illustrious CVs back in high school, expect them to have a positive influence in the team’s campaign throughout the rest of the season as they seek to bring home the crown in their first season in the Seniors Division.

 

I can contribute by sharing my experiences and giving my 101 percent in each and every game to bring the DLSU Men’s Football Team in the final and to be the Season 82 champions,” said Talaroc.

 

Likewise, Blanco shared, “Ang mabibigay ko sa team ay ang pagpapakita kung sino talaga ako at sa pagbahagi ng mga experiences ko sa national team. Makakatulong ako sa paggamit ng playing style ko kasi meron tayong mga strikers tulad na kayang kumuha ng mga long balls ko. At naniniwala ako na kayang-kaya naming mag champion this season!

 

For Dalam, it is all about hitting the ground running come kick-off. “I think I can help them to boost (the team’s) confidence and strength spiritually, emotionally and mentally by trusting myself in all of my actions during the game. I will also keep the Animo spirit so that we will play together as a team because chemistry in the game is very important towards the championship.

 

Only a select few can wear the La Salle jersey in the UAAP. It may weigh heavy but that is because the school’s players have much to live up to. For these four rookies and the rest of the DLSU Men’s Football Team, the pressure is on to finally reclaim that holy grail.

 

My expectation for this Season 82 is this season will be a good season for the team. I expect that we will do better than last year. I expect that this season we will get that championship and gold medals,” concluded Bengay.

 

Ready, Aim, Fire: Men’s Football Team All Set For Redemption

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Between the 77th and 90th minutes of the finals of the UAAP Season 81 Men’s Football Tournament, the De La Salle University Men’s Football Team were set to become kings of the division for the first time since 1998.

However, come the first minute of added time, disaster truck as Ateneo de Manila University Blue Eagles forward Jarvey Gayoso latched on substitute Luca Alleje’s pass to equalize right at the death. From then on, it was downhill for La Salle as midfielder Julian Roxas headed home the winner in stoppage time.

“I can personally say that it is hard to get over a heartbreak like that, but we can only power through and improve ourselves. The worst experiences are our greatest teachers. And so, with this, we picked ourselves up and started focusing right away for this coming season, bringing with us maturity and experience in the game,” said skipper Jed Diamante.

Nearly 10 months after that game, though, any ounce of pain from that loss has now evaporated and it merely serves as motivation to go one better for the looming campaign.

“The team is very excited to play in the upcoming season. We joined Ang Liga as our preseason tournament and just suffered one loss with two games left to play. The team has a positive attitude towards preseason games and pre-UAAP training preparations, which is very important to bring in the season,” explained defender Nathan Alcantara.

One notable absentee for the squad this year is Shanden Vergara, who earned an athletic scholarship abroad. However, his exit, alongside the likes of Yoshi Koizumi and Xavi Zubiri, opens pathways for new players to wear the famous La Salle jersey.

“The rookies have been performing very well. They have adjusted to the team’s system and have been establishing themselves as worthy to represent the university. We very much appreciate what the other players have contributed to the team and the university in the past seasons, and we can only build further from there. Promising as they are, the rookies are surely useful additions to the team’s artillery,” added Diamante.

Lasallians can expect the usual suspects such as Ateneo, UP, FEU and UST to stand in the way of the team in its quest to reclaim the overdue championship. Nevertheless, while the overall goal is clear, the team will stick to its ‘one game at a time’ mantra.

“What I think the team needs for this year is to follow the coaches’ instructions and always smile even though we go through some hardships,” concluded midfielder Paeng Siggaoat.

Why Cry Over Kobe?

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The Black Mamba is gone. Basketball has lost one of it’s most certified superstars. Too soon at that. Hey, he hasn’t even had the chance to wait for his Hall of Fame induction and acceptance ceremony. Shaquille O’Neal said it straight. They will “never have a chance to rib each other about Kobe winning five and him only four, and that if they stayed together, they might have won ten.”

Well, normally when a celebrity dies, you’re curious and sad, in a way, specially if you’re a fan, but you never really empathize with what happened to them and what the people closest to them feel. There is no gut wrench.

Why? Because they’re not your family. They’re not your friends. There is no personal connection. You feel sadness and loss, but you don’t really feel the pain. I mean, the guy’s a multi millionaire athlete, a superstar on the global stage. Are we? Really nothing to emphatize with on a personal emotional level is there?

Then you hear the next part. Other people on that helicopter crash died with him. Initially rumored was another former Laker of an earlier era, Rick Fox, but that turned to be a dud. Still same effect.

Finally, a more accurate report. His13 year old daughter Gianna, her teammate and her parents, a Filipino American coach, another mother and daughter, and of course, the pilot, also perished in the mishap.

Whoa!!!!!! That hit hard. On all of us. Our family affiliations suddenly coming to fore. Hey, this is too close to home!!!! This could happen to me and my family. Anytime.

And now you detail the events and facts. It’s no longer a celebrity story. It’s a family story. It’s a tragic family story. And it’s very Filipino-esque.

The 13 year old daughter’s death in itself, turns your intestines inside out. A lot of promise gone up in, pardon the pun, smoke. Then you hear about her teammate being there. But wait. Her PARENTS were also there. So was a wife and mother. Another mother and daughter. And the pilot. He was a family to someone wasn’t he?

Hearing more of the story, we now find out that Kobe and Gigi heard mass at 7:00 am, then called the other members of their posse, to go their kids’ basketball game.

Son of a….. that’s US. At one point or another in our family lives, we did this, or are still doing it, for some of you. Sure we don’t take a helicopter to the venue, but this could have easily been a car crash story, with the same result. And, that’s US!!!!!!

Suddenly, Kobe is no longer the 20 year NBA superstar. He was Dad. Brother. Mentor. Coach. He was one of US. And his family and friends suddenly lost them. And it felt like we lost a dad, brother, sister, mom, aunt, and uncle. We felt the loss.

You suddenly realized that being a 20 year NBA superstar is really a sacrifice.

The trappings of a superstar almost cost him his liberty (rape case), his multi million dollar endorsements ( Adidas for one), and his marriage. Also, being a “regular” dad just wasn’t an option during his playing years. And his legendary work ethic and constant travels was just what it was. Little time for the family.

But one thing saved Kobe and this was his personal account. Kobe was Catholic. Remember that he grew up in Italy.

So he went to a Catholic priest for marital and family advice, who told him to let it be, you can’t control what has been done, but probably and cryptically meant “hey, you broke it, you fix it…but trust and ask for God’s guidance.”

So he turned to his faith and decided to fix his life according to Catholic values and teachings. All the more, this is turning into a Filipino family story isn’t it? Very soap opera like even. And Kobe, unlike all the NBA superstars who have come and gone, visited us six times!!!!! He was practically an adopted son of the Philippines.

Hey, he might’ve turned Filipino for all we know. Heck, he almost became a La Sallian!!!!!! No joke.

And because of this, the self centered, egotistical, high achiever, got rid of his “self”, his “id”, started to think “team” and switched teams in the end. From Team Lakers to Team Vanessa and Daughters.

After his retirement, he rarely watched NBA games and concentrated on raising his family as Dad. Made up for lost time, if you will.

He was still young enough. His daughters were still young. He had a months old child. There was still time. Plenty of it.

As it turned out, one of his children, Gianna, shared his same interest. One could just imagine how happy he was. He built the Mamba center for her and her team to train in. He purchased a helicopter so as not to be late for her training and games. And he trained her himself. So happy. And fulfilled.

Well events happened and there was little time as it turned out. And the hard realization was if this could happen to Kobe, what more to us? After all, a car crash is much more common that a helicopter crash.

So this is a story of a man who worked hard, succeeded, went out of control for a while, repented, prayed out his problems, focused on work and family, retired from work and centered on what was left. Family.

Guys, this is a Filipino story. Better yet, this is a global story. And best of all, this is a story of faith.

Frankly I wasn’t a fan of Kobe Number 8. He was an achiever but he was self centered. I was a Larry Bird, Chief Parrish, Kevin McHale type. Hard working lunch bucket types who went home and mowed the lawn during weekends. Plus even then, I loved the green and white.

I respected the Kobe Number 24 more because you could see the transition from Number 8. After the Shaq break-up, he became alpha dog of his team. He began to show leadership. He began to teach. To lift up teammates. And yes. To still dominate. Hell he was still Kobe.

Well I believe all of them are Heaven bound now. When they died, they were doing things for each other. As parents supporting, teaching their children. Helping them fulfill their dreams. A happy picture. A happy story.

But of course there is another side of the story here. One of tragedy. Grief. Picking up the pieces. Missing your loved ones. Wife Vanessa and her remaining kids. Joe Bryant and his family. Husband and children. Father.

It’s a story of the Catholic faith. It’s like a La Sallian story. It’s a Filipino story. It’s a Universal story. A painful one. But one everyone will have to go through.

And that’s why we cry for Kobe. Kobe is us.