Monday, August 23, 2010

The Filipino Connection

Like reaching for the cookie jar: Fil-Am Coach Erik Spoelstra
showing the kids the art shooting a basketball.

(Photo by: Roy Afable)

August seems to be a month of basketball here in the Philippines. It’s no surprise that this is usually the month NBA players would drop by the country to promote their latest kicks. Not for Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra though. He returned to Manila to help spread the word on good health, fitness & wellness, and the Pinoys favorite sport – basketball.

Monday, August 16, 2010

For the love of Basketball

The Philippines has always been basketball country – it literally has become a part of every Filipino’s lives. You can tell just how popular the game here is just by going around Metro Manila and you’ll see basketball being played on every street corner 24/7. I’m one of those that played ball here almost every day. Friends would drop by my house just to invite me for a game of hoops. Never mind that we didn’t wear the best pair of kicks to ball on – our rubber slippers got us covered.

In 2005, an American from New York came over to the Philippines to do some research about the popularity of the sport. Rafe Bartholomew witnessed first-hand how big it (basketball) was here. He not only learned the history of Philippine hoops but also the Filipino language: Tagalog. Having spent 3 years in the country, he's now just as fluent as the locals with the language (I send him tweets on his Twitter account in Tagalog and he replies to me just the same – how cool is that?). His passion for basketball was no different from us Filipinos. Upon returning to the US, the great memories he brought home from a hoops-loving country was the main inspiration he penned the book now known all over the world as Pacific Rims.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Mark Webber on the prowl, Barrichello not happy with Schumi

Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber shows off his trophy after 1st place podium finish
at the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest last August 1.

After last Sunday's race in Hungary, Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber has emerged as the top dog in the Formula One Drivers' Championship. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton is now sitting at number 2 while Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel moved to the 3rd spot thus dropping Jenson Button at 4th in the standings. There's no surprise that the Australian driver would jump the gun on Lewis Hamilton's driving woes of sorts.

While Red Bull Racing was celebrating, their German driver Vettel was non too pleased with his 3rd place podium finish. His sudden lapse of reaction cost him a lot -- he was then penalized for all his troubles:

Via BBC Sport:

The German was penalised for failing to keep within 10 car lengths of the safety car early in the race, allowing team-mate Mark Webber to go on and win.

Vettel eventually finished third and said: "At the restart I was sleeping.

"It's been explained to me, but I still don't understand it. We're unlucky - it would have been a walk in the park."

The 23-year-old's penalty, taken on lap 32, meant he re-emerged behind Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who defended superbly to hold his position until the end and ensure Vettel secured just 15 points.

It was also the sixth time out of seven this season that Vettel has failed to convert pole position into a race win.

Speaking of frustrations, it didn't take too long for Brazilian Driver Rubens Barichello to express his beef on Michael Schumacher about his "driving strategy". Tell 'em why you mad son.

From Eurosport UK/Reuters:

Brazilian Rubens Barrichello criticised former Ferrari team mate Michael Schumacher on Sunday for what he said was the most dangerous manoeuvre ever used against him.

"I like a fair fight. But that wasn't fair here," the Williams driver told Sky Deutschland TV at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

"If Michael wants to go to heaven - in the event that he is going to heaven - then I don't really care. But I don't want to go before him."

Barrichello went past for 10th place and the final point late in the race while Schumacher, making a Formula One comeback at the age of 41 and after three years in retirement, was 11th for Mercedes.

The stewards ruled that the seven-times world champion, in forcing Barrichello perilously close to the wall and off track while trying to prevent the Williams going past, had "illegitimately impeded" the Brazilian.

Schumacher was handed a 10-place penalty for his next race, his favourite Belgian Grand Prix later this month.

"He kept on coming even though I was already alongside," Barrichello said in the Williams motorhome. "I was lucky that the wall finished.

"I was millimetres from the wall," added Barrichello, who spent six years at Ferrari with Schumacher where the German regularly benefited from preferential treatment.

Barrichello described Schumacher's action as "probably one of the worst" he had experienced and said action was necessary because he was such a role model for youngsters.

"Obviously today I wouldn't back off for anything," he said.

"If we had touched there, I think he would flick it over and go inside the wall like head-on. So it was more of a danger for him, because he kept on coming. I couldn't move any further to the right because the wall was there.

"If you take a photo of the wall and us, there is not a hair in there. It's unbelievable...I am very glad and very lucky that we are here to talk."

Barrichello said he had not spoken to Schumacher because to do so would be pointless.

The feeling is somewhat mutual, perhaps. Rubens can't be blamed for his reaction(s) on the matter. The 7-time F1 world champ however extended his apologies to his former Ferrari teammate which was very classy on his part:

"After I watched the incident with Rubens again, I must say that the stewards were right with their assessment; the manoeuvre against him was too hard," he said.

"I wanted to make it hard for him to pass... I wasn't trying to endanger him with my move. If he felt I was, then I'm sorry. This was not my intention."

The Mercedes driver finished 11th in Sunday's race at the Hungaroring while Barrichello took the final point for Williams after holding his nerve and forcing his way past.

Schumacher, returning to Formula One at the age of 41 and after three years in retirement, said Sunday's race was one of the toughest he had experienced so far in his comeback.

"It was pretty edgy to drive the car on the limit, so I had to fight my way through the race and at the end it was like walking on ice," said the German, winner of a record 91 career races but so far without a podium finish this year.

Despite Schumi's apology, the incident would cost him his spot at the Belgian GP in a few weeks -- not a good sign for the veteran driver. With all the unpredictable stuff and controversies in the F1 world, it's interesting what sort of "changes" will be happening in the coming races. Sure, the Red Bull's riding high at the moment all that can, well -- change. Jenson Button better get his act together in the next race in Spa. He hasn't been in the zone as of late.

Oh well, we'll all just wait and see.


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