MANILA, Philippines – Not rain, not ungodly Manila traffic, and not even a typhoon can stop fans from flocking to Manila from provinces to see their idol NBA star LeBron James in the flesh.
With tickets given away to an exhibition game involving James and the kids from the Nike Rise campaign via online registration, fans quickly jumped at the chance to see the Cleveland Cavaliers forward and, hopefully, snap pictures of or with him.
Anjo Murallo, 28, took a 10-hour bus ride from Iriga City Camarines Sur as early as Monday, August 17 in order to obtain his tickets after registering online. He will be watching from upper box together with his schoolmates who are also from Iriga.
“Super fan since day one. Magaling na magaling kasi siya tapos hindi naman masyadong mayabang, sakto lang, tsaka team player (I’ve been a super fan since day one. He’s really, really good and he’s not too conceited, just right, and he’s also a team player),” said Murallo, a law graduate who is currently selling sports attire online and preparing to re-take the Bar exam.
Murallo, whom Rappler spoke with amid drizzling rain outside the Mall of Asia Arena, showed how much of a true fan he was when he talked about how James and the Cavaliers lost in the recent NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
“Talo ako sa pustahan (I lost the bet),” said Murallo, who was also present during the 30-year old James’ first Manila visit in 2013.
“Pero nung nag-champion sila against sa Spurs, nag-throw ako ng party sa Bicol. Pool party, lahat libre. Sana nga nakaabang na yung second party kasi diba nag-2-1. Kaso natalo e so nabulilyaso yung party. Hopefully mag-champion na this year para matuloy yung party.”
(When they became champion against the Spurs, I threw a party at Bicol. It was a pool party, everything was free. I already had a second party prepared because the Cavaliers were up 2-1 against the Warriors. But they lost and the party was shot. Hopefully this year they become champion and the party pushes through.)
“Hindi ako lumabas ng bahay mga one or two weeks kasi mga barkada ko lahat kalaban sa pustahan. Yung pride ko na-hurt (I did not leave the house for one or two weeks because my friends were all my against me on the bet. My pride was hurt),” he added.
Murallo is expecting an exciting night ahead.
“Chills. Lalo pag lumabas na si LeBron magsisigawan ng ‘L-B-J’ sabay sabay (Chills Especially when LeBron comes out and everyone is yelling ‘L-B-J’ all at the same time),” he said, adding he will try and catch the game’s best player on Friday, August 21 when he visits the Nike store at Bonifacio Global City.
Across the sea for LeBron
Meanwhile, 42-year old Glendon Persia and his son braved Typhoon Ineng when they crossed the see from Puerto Galera and travelled to Manila just to see their longtime idol.
“Tawid dagat pa kami. Gusto namin makita si LeBron James pati mga anak namin kasi bihira lang siya pumunta dito (We crossed the sea. We really want to see LeBron James, even our kids, because he rarely comes here),” said Persia, who has been a fan of James together with his son since 2003 as well.
“Ito’y isang opportunity sa amin makita siya ng malapit, sana makapagpa-picture kami. Akala nga namin baka hindi kami matuloy kasi may bagyo malakas yung alon.”
(This is a big opportunity for us to see him up close, I hope we can get a picture with him. We thought we might not make it out because of the typhoon, the waves were too strong.)
Persia and his son 10-year old Joaquin Glenn left Puerto Galera at 12:30 this afternoon following Joaquin’s volleyball game at his school’s intramurals.
Persia and Joaquin were also with 9-year old Andrey Marcus Bunquin. Both children cried out in glee when asked about the prospect of seeing James.
“Excited!” Joaquin exclaimed raising both arms in the air.
“Super!” said Andrey, who loves board games.
Persia and the two kids, who will be closer to the court at the patron area, are looking forward to getting close-up photos of James.
“Nung nawala na kasi si Michael Jordan parang siya (James) na yung pumalit sa kanya (Jordan) na nakita namin na magaling,” Persia said. “Iba naman siyempre si Michael Jordan pero iba rin yung LeBron James.”
(When Michael Jordan was gone, it’s like James was the talented player who took over for him. Of course Michael Jordan is different but LeBron James is also different.)
James is in Manila for the Nike Rise campaign and aims to inspire the youth participants during his stay. The exhibition game is slated for Thursday night, August 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena. – Rappler.com