I first met Zion Laterre back when he was in Team B. When a decision was made to help manage Gabby Severino's outfit, we identified a few players who could possibly move up to the UAAP team and see how we can help them. Zion was one of them (along with Mike Baldos, Jeff De Guzman, Zach Estoesta, and a few others). Guys like Raul Banzon chipped in by giving them some free use of their Plyometrics training at the Fort. Others like Jem Bengzon gave valuable advice on how to go about helping the team. Paolo Trillo and Mr. M were most gracious in assisting us and making sure we complied with team rules. And of course, Fr. Tito Caluag was there to shepherd us along.
Zi played a somewhat different game back then. He had more of an attacking style that we all thought we be an asset to any team because of his boundless energy and athleticism and a commitment to defense. He's never dunked in the UAAP, but if you watched him back then, you would have all been reminded of Rich Alvarez. There were some pretty nasty slams back then, bro. With his basketball IQ, we knew it wouldn't be long before he was elevated. So when Zi and Eman Nazareno made it the following year, we were ecstatic. Now that Mike Baldos has followed suit all that hardship definitely was worth it. The program works and they've got some pretty good coaches over there.
But there were a few others who would have been real cool to see play in the senior circuit. To see them go to the games and cheer their former teammates on is gratifying. To Zach, Harry Hipolito, Gino Villame, Chester Chavez, and Jeff, it was sure nice to see you up in the stands cheering the team on. I'm no longer involved with Team B but I had a chat with Tonino Gonzaga (during the celebration for the Lady Eagles) who has been tearing up the competiton along with guys like Jeff and Enzo Katipunan in the Fr. Martin II. Like I told you, bro. Just hang in there. Good things come to those who wait and do their best at all times.
Last night, we had dinner at Omakase in Libis. Catching up on the just-concluded season (we had a lot of stories to swap that we cannot post here for the moment) and the future. Zi will probably leave for Australia this mid-November. He's finally done with school and should come back in time for graduation. Since the UAAP games ended, he plunged into his studies and caught up with all his final requirements. He'll be practicing with his hometown team the Townsville Crocodiles in the National Basketball League and try to land a spot on the roster. The team told him to finish his college education then come back.
Dude, it's been like what... four years? Congratulations to you and Karla (she's due to give birth to a baby girl this coming January 2008). Those were some mighty fine hoops days when the team and its supporters walked the streets of Recto after a game in search of something to eat. Taking the LRT and dashing through the pouring rain to find shelter. Man...the UAAP may be more memorable, but as a good friend of mine once said (photog Joseph Nocos), that time in Team B built character.
Best wishes, bud. Maybe we'll see you and Karla in New York next time.
AMDG + OBF!