Celebs, athletes play basketball to help ‘Sendong’ victims

Natashya Gutierrez

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The game raised almost half a million -- and counting

MANILA, Philippines – It was an idea that was first shared as a Facebook status.

Two weeks later, it became a reality.

A crowded stadium, screaming fans, and a basketball court boasting celebrities and players gathered together for one cause: to help the victims of typhoon Sendong.

The brainchild of the event, Kiefer Ravena, University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Rookie of the Year, shared his thoughts on Facebook about the possibility of hosting a charity game. “I just ate dinner [after posting on my Facebook] then when I came back to check on my laptop there were a 108 likes already and a lot of comments,” said Ravena. “That really gave me the motivation… it wasn’t difficult for me to fix anything.”

All proceeds from the event will go to the typhoon’s victims. At the time this article was published, Mozzy Ravena, Kiefer’s mom, said Fastbreak earned P400,000 – and counting.

The support was overwhelming.

Most of those Ravena reached out to were more than happy to help, and soon, two star-studded line-ups were born.

The Smart Red Team boasted Ravena, UAAP Most Valuable Player RR Garcia, actors Jhong Hilario, Marco Alcaraz, Jose Manalo, singers Rico Banco and Champ Lui Pio, TV host Tado, and basketball players Justin Chua, Jai Reyes, Dan Sara, Von Pessumal, Anton Altamirano and Raf Melocoton.

Opposing team Meralco White Team had the captain of the Philippine team Chris Tiu, dancer Gab Valenciano, athletes Nico Salva, Kevin Alas, Baser Amer, JP Erram, Joshua Webb, Joseph Marata and Thirdy Ravena, rapper Young JV, model Jon Hall, and actor Gerald Anderson.


The game – coined Fastbreak precisely because of the short amount of time it took to organize the event – was fun-filled right from the start.

The first quarter was a tight game with both teams exchanging baskets and pumping up the crowd. Right before the beginning of the second quarter, Anderson suited up for the white team, surprising the arena that erupted in screams upon his unexpected entrance. His presence seemed to help. At halftime, the red team had a comfortable lead, 62-50.

As exciting as the game was, the action during halftime was surely the highlight for many.

A ‘Dougie’ dance-off was kicked off by Hilario, while the likes of Anderson, the older Ravena, and Valenciano showed off their moves as well. An amusing imitation of TV character Budoy by Manalo got the crowd – and Anderson, the real actor who plays Budoy – rolling with laughter.

A three-point shootout also took place, which was won by basketball legend Allan Caidic over Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) standout James Yap, GMA reporter Mark Zambrano and PBA player Chris Ellis.

By the start of the second half, the energy in the arena was palpable, contagious.

Manalo went from playing to becoming a referee, making incredulous calls favoring his losing team, which soon resulted to them catching up. His hilarious calls included four freethrows from the line and a three-point shot worth four points. Tado also saw some action on court, and after his first basket, his shorts were pulled down to reveal his underwear to a roaring crowd.

The fourth quarter was just as entertaining with athletes doing somersaults and showing off dribbling tricks until the final whistle. In the end, the white team defeated the red team 118-107.

Rappler livestreamed the game and had special guest commentators per quarter. Zambrano helped this writer annotate the first quarter, while Caidic shared his thoughts in the second. The third quarter was Yap’s time to shine behind the microphone while Vice Ganda was just as enjoyable a commentator as the ongoing game.

“It was fun, lots of fun,” said Tiu. “I thought it would be more serious but it was really, purely entertainment. Most of the guys were just joking around trying to make the fans happy.”

Lessons from ‘Sendong’

Amid the entertainment, celebrities and players alike emphasized the cause of the event. All expressed enthusiasm about taking part in the game to help the victims most affected by typhoon Sendong.

“I’m here for a good cause. We’re here to raise funds for our brothers and sisters who were affected by Sendong,” said Blanco. “I said yes right away without finding out the details.”

They also shared lessons they took away from the tragedy, and encouraged others to continue donating and doing what they can to assist those in need.

“Stop cutting down so many trees, that’s the reason why Cagayan got hit so hard,” said Hall. “We gotta think about what we’re building and how Mother Nature will affect us.”

Tiu also spoke of how Sendong reminded him about how fleeting life can be.

“We should cherish and value every moment of our lives,” said Tiu. “For me its just really valuing life and all the people around you, every minute of every day… For those who want to help out, its not too late.” – Rappler.com

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Natashya Gutierrez

Natashya is President of Rappler. Among the pioneers of Rappler, she is an award-winning multimedia journalist and was also former editor-in-chief of Vice News Asia-Pacific. Gutierrez was named one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2023.