Talk About Balls
It’s been almost one full year since I sat down to tell my story of life in the college basketball scene. I was fresh from my stint in the UAAP, a year out of college, and convinced that I had taken all I could from sports broadcasting.
Not that I felt I had learned everything there is to learn about the industry; far from it. But I was sure that I had used up all the passion I had for talking about basketball. I’d never felt qualified to be doing it in the first place—I was the geek in the glasses who would duck whenever a ball (of any kind) was passed her way. Who was I to be privy to the secrets of sports and the ambitions of athletes?
Then late last September I received a call from AKTV, TV 5’s new sports division. Come in for an audition, they said. We’re looking for new reporters for the PBA.
The Philippine Basketball Association. If I had jumped into the UAAP knowing close to nothing, about the PBA I knew even less. At the time of my audition I’m not sure I could have named a team outside of Ginebra or named a player other than Jaworski or James Yap. But life loves a good curve ball (and look at me now, using sports references), and I found myself, disheveled, panicky and ignorant, at the opening of the 37th season of the PBA.
I was a fish out of water that day, and for weeks after that. I struggled to put together names and faces of players, coaches, team owners and managers, wives and girlfriends, as well as PBA officials. My heart pounded every time I knocked on a locker room door to get a report, because I sometimes couldn’t remember which player belonged to which team, or because I had no idea whether my questions were relevant or not. I also had to deal with hair and makeup and high heels on the court—unheard of in the jeans-and-sneakers combo of college reporting. In those first couple of months I would wake up in the morning feeling way, way out of my league.
But people can get used to anything, and given enough time and experience, I believe they can learn anything, too. So I learned. I learned to stay away from players’ private relationships except at the most basic level. I learned to get the gist of a coach’s huddle instructions instead of quoting him straight. I learned players’ names and numbers, their histories and their ages, their reputations and their strengths and weaknesses. I learned how to approach whom during timeouts and before games. I learned to brisk-walk in heels and curl my hair.
The turning point for me as a sports broadcaster, however, was Game 7 of this year’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals. It was only during that game—or at least, that series—that I felt, for the first time, that I knew what the hell I was doing. With pressure on the AKTV crew to put up a show worthy of the battle taking place on the court at an all-time high, I felt I knew my place at last. It was the beginning, you could say, of a new fire for the job for me.
I had never seen such a game in my life. It was easy to love the UAAP because I had a stake in it; I was a student of a participating school, and a reporter for my team. But until the Commissioner’s Cup Finals series I wasn’t sure what I felt for the PBA outside of it being a job, or a challenge. The fire, the drama, the passion that ignited and
surrounded and filled Game 7—from the fans to the players to the broadcast team—made me believe that more than be challenged by it, I could love this league and the characters in it as much as I loved the UAAP.
Life threw me a curve ball, putting me in sports the first time and then yanking me back to it for a professional run. I’m not sure what it means or where it will take me. It could be over before I figure out how to read fouls right. Or I could end up staying in the industry for the next ten years.
But I’m inspired by the league, supported by my colleagues (who are amazing, by the way, especially certain ones whom I won’t name but who’ve repeatedly gone out of their way to give small ego boosts to the wavering confidence of a noob reporter), and almost dared by producers to show them what I’ve got. And now lo and behold! Here comes the bookworm, more excited than ever to get back in the game for her third conference with AKTV and the PBA, should that come to pass.
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