PBA legends band together for ‘Court of Inspiration’ project

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Rey Joble, InterAKTV · Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Six members of the PBA’s 25 Greatest Players have banded together for a common cause to inspire younger generations of basketball players around the country.

Led by the PBA’s “Point Laureate” Ronnie Magsanoc, a group composed of Alvin Patrimonio, Benjie Paras, Jerry Codinera, Jojo Lastimosa, and Johnny Abarrientos will spearhead the Court of Inspiration project, a program that will tap volunteers to provide basketball courts around the Philippines.
The project, bankrolled by Alaxan FR, will be supervised by an engineer, but will involve contributions from people within the respective barangays. It is part of Unilab’s larger effort called Galing Mo!, which aims to rally the bayanihan spirit among Filipinos across the country.
““What’s meaningful about this project is that this court is their own as they were the ones who built, second, it was meant to last and third it will be up to them how they can face the challenge of using this basketball court as a source of inspiration in changing their lives,” said Magsanoc.

Humble beginnings
Lastimosa said efforts like the Court of Inspiration is something that’s close to the hearts of all the players involved in the project.
“Wala sa aming lahat na pinanganak na mayaman,” said Lastimosa, the former team captain of the Alaska dynasty in the 1990s who now oversees the company’s grassroots basketball program. “Lahat kami dumaan sa hirap. I came from the province and most of the time played basketball on the streets, same as these guys who also grew up playing basketball elsewhere. But we used that as a way to change our lives.”
Magsanoc still recalls his modest basketball-playing roots alongside Paras, who was his teammate in their early days in San Beda.
“Dati, candy nga lang halos kinakain namin at tubig. Sumasakay kami ng jeep ni Benjie, kadalasan hindi pa kami nagbabayad,” said Magsanoc in jest. “But what we’re saying is that kung kaya mong tiisin ang gutom and be able to still play basketball, walang imposible sa mga gustong mag-sikap at mag-tagumpay.”

Play anywhere
As kids, the PBA legends played just about anywhere just to get their basketball fix. Abarrientos, who grew up in La Loma, Quezon City, started playing the game using a tennis ball on a small ring attached to a concrete wall.
“Maraming aray rin ang tiniis ko,” said the 1996 PBA Most Valuable Player. “Bumabangga kasi kami sa pader habang naglalaro, pero balewala sa amin yun kasi gusto naming gumaling sa basketball.”
Codinera said it hardly mattered what kind of playing conditions were available to the,.
“Kahit lupa o semento, naglalaro kami,” said Codinera, who was known as the Defense Minister during his career. “Maswerte nga kami kahit paano may nalalaruan kami, kaya noong inalok kami to join this project, hindi kami nagdalawang isip. Marami kaming matutulungan na mga lugar na walang basketball court and we would want to serve as inspiration to them.”

Giving back
Patrimonio, a four-time MVP with Purefoods, said the project was an opportunity for the players to thank the people who supported them during their careers.
“It’s one way of giving back to the people and bless them,” he said.
The Court of Inspiration project has already started in five areas: Iloilo, Bacolod, Dumaguete, Butuan, and Sarangani. It will have its next pit stops in the provinces of Cagayan de Oro, Cebu, Davao, Tacloban and Zamboanga City.

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