Champions for A Cause: Rekindling a rivalry and that bayanihan spirit
by rick olivares
Lim Eng Beng knows what hardship is all about. And he wasn’t referring to leading Chiang Kai Shek or La Salle or even U-Tex to a championship. He was referring to growing up in Tondo (in Moriones Street) with his family not having enough.
Lim never learned to play basketball from any NBA or MICAA idol. He learned the game by himself playing street ball. With the tambays and lasengeros and toughies who didn’t take to weak-ass fouls. He never complained. The best way to shut up an opponent wasn’t to undercut him or give him an elbow. But to score on him and win the game.
He parlayed his exceptional shooting skills to get an education first at Chiang Kai Shek and then at La Salle.
For all the success his game brought him, Lim never forgot where he came from. To this date, he helps out the poor and the needy. When he was invited by his old college teammate Virgil Villavicencio to attend the press conference for the Champions for A Cause, the benefit game between NCAA champion San Beda and UAAP title holder La Salle for the victims of Typhoon Yolanda, he immediately said, “yes.”
“Basta to give back and to help,” he said.
The benefit match has already brought out memories of playing San Beda. Good ones and bad ones. “The NCAA,” he said as his mind raced back to those days. Beng paused to measure his words, “was wild. There were always fights.”
He had many memorable games (scoring 50 points or more in back-to-back games) and not so memorable ones. “The one I remember a lot was Chito Bugia (the father of former Ateneo Blue Eagle and current Alaska Ace Paolo Bugia). He was tough. I also remember driving to the basket. It was a fastbreak. Then someone undercut me. I don’t remember anything because I was unconscious and was brought to the hospital. The NCAA was wild.”
Frankie Lim remembers watching Lim and Villavicencio. The former San Beda Red Lion point guard joked about his La Sallian counterparts as being ahead of him. “When you are a basketball fan, you watch everyone,” he would later say. “But this is a good endeavor.”
Emmanuel Calanog, Director of DLSU’s Office of Sports Development said that the pictures that spread on the internet showing Filipinos playing basketball amidst the destruction in the Visayas speaks volumes of what the game means to the country. “It helps bring a sense of normalcy to our lives.”
The coaches, players, and school officials in attendance all acknowledge the history and rivalry between the two schools. While it is a charity game, there will be no quarter. Each side wants to win. But everyone cautions the media on why they are participating in this benefit game. They all have sons and players with families who were affected by Typhoon Yolanda.
La Salle rookie guard Robert Bolick’s family is from Ormoc. While they were hit their family is all right.
San Beda guard Richie Villaruz’ family is from Iloilo. The family business was hurt by the typhoon but like Bolick’s kin, they too were spared of any casualties.
“I think we have an opportunity to help our countrymen,” said Filoil Vice President for Sales and Marketing Mandy Ochoa. “The rehabilitation process of the Visayas will not end in a week or even in a few months. We are talking about years. The two schools have their own efforts. What the charity game will accomplish is bring more attention to what is needed. We will see to that.”
When the two sides were pressed on who would win the game, they all mentioned their respective schools. But Filoil executive David Dualan expressly pointed out here that the ultimate winner here are not only the victims of Yolanda but also the Filipino people. “In a time like this, it has rekindled our bayanihan spirit.”
Champions for A Cause: For the Victims of Typhoon Yolanda will be played on December 7, 2013 at 12 noon at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Tickets will be available at Ticketnet beginning this Thursday.