MANILA, Philippines – Although retired from his Gilas Pilipinas duties, LA Tenorio remains as one of the most notable national team players in the past decade.
The 33-year-old was part of Gilas’ historic silver-medal finish in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships and was also hailed tournament Most Valuable Player in the Philippines’ championship campaign in the 2012 William Jones Cup.
That’s why it still thrilled the PBA star when LeBron James again gave a nod to the Filipinos’ toughness on the basketball court with the unveiling of the Nike LeBron Soldier 12 “Agimat.”
“It’s a different feeling, parang feeling mo pag suot mo ‘tong shoes na ‘to, it’s like you’re really representing the country, malaking bagay ‘yun,” said Tenorio, who felt lucky to get first dibs on the pair along with the Gilas 3×3 players. (READ: Gilas 3×3 squad hopes to walk the talk)
(It’s a different feeling. When you are wearing these shoes, it’s like you’re really representing the country and that is a big thing.)
For Tenorio, to have someone as impactful and trascendent as James wearing another Philippine-inspired shoe is a big deal.
“You know naman LeBron, one of the greatest players playing in the NBA right now, makita mo na suot niya ‘yung Agimat, as a Filipino, napakalaking bagay noon para sa atin. Hindi naman niya kailangang banggitin pa,” Tenorio said during a recent sneak-peek event hosted by Nike at the Hyper Court in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig.
(You know LeBron, he is one of the greatest players playing in the NBA right now. To see him wear the Agimat in the NBA, that is a big thing for us Filipinos. He doesn’t even need to mention it.)
Intricate symbols adorn the “Agimat,” which drew inspiration from the Philippines and James’ career and personal highlights.
In the shoes’ pull tab, “MNL” and the number “330” stand for Manila and James’ hometown of Akron, Ohio, respectively. A blazing flame, meanwhile, represents the country’s volcanoes and James’ intense passion for the sport.
Four stars are a reminder of the The King’s 4 Most Valuable Player plums and the mountain signifies the Philippines’ terrain and James’ relentless drive in his pursuit to be the greatest to ever play.
Finally, the phrase “Para sa Kadakilaan” (For Greatness) is inscribed at the back of the shoes.
The pair features a circular knit upper and a simplified strap that provide a snug fit for players. And unlike other LeBron sneakers, it is relatively lighter.
“These shoes, medyo actually comfortable siya sa akin and to be honest, ‘yung mga dating LeBron, nahihirapan tayong isuot kasi nga medyo mabigat siya,” said Tenorio, who plays point guard for Barangay Ginebra. “‘Yun yung comment ng karamihan, especially sa ating Pilipino kasi hindi naman natin kasalanan kasi si LeBron nagsusuot noon e, ‘yun ‘yung weight niya compare sa weight natin.”
(I feel comfortable wearing these shoes and to be honest, we had a hard time wearing the previous LeBrons because they are slightly heavier. That is the common comment of normal players, especially us Filipinos since it is LeBron’s shoes, it caters to his weight.)
The LeBron Soldier 12 “Agimat” is set to hit the shelves on June 15 at the Nike Park and Titan branches for a P6,745 retail price. (LOOK: LeBron James gets another PH-inspired shoe with Soldier 12 ‘Agimat’)
For Tenorio, though, it is not just the aesthetics that matter, but also the performance.
“As a point guard, ang pinakaimportante sa akin is really, pag nag-change of directions ako, hindi ako magkakaroon ng pagdadalawang isip na gawin consistently,” he said.
(As a point guard, what’s most important for me is when I change directions, I’m not having second thoughts of doing it consistenly.) – Rappler.com
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