Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

A slice of NBA hoops & entertainment: NBA 3X

This appears in the Monday, July 7, 2014 edition of the Business Mirror.

A slice of NBA hoops and entertainment: NBA 3X
by rick olivares

Even before the first ever NBA pre-season game was played in Manila, one of the first and flagship activities by the world’s best basketball league has given Filipinos a small sample of its fare.

The NBA 3X Philippines combines exciting three-on-three basketball competition to go with authentic NBA entertainment where current or past stars are on hand to grace the event along with a NBA Dance Team and a team mascot that enlivens the activities.

Now on its fourth year, NBA 3X as presented by Sprite returned to Manila at the SM Mall of Asia Music Hall last July 4 – 6, where Filipinos and basketball fans got to celebrate the game as well as NBA culture that included fan activities including a slam dunk contest, basketball clinics, 3-point shootouts, skills challenges, autograph sessions, and more.

This year, DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, and Los Angeles Lakers Wesley Johnson, were on hand to headline the event. The duo helped run clinics and interacted with fans.

Last year, DeRozan guided the Raptors to a 48-win season—the team’s most successful regular season campaign ever—and helped steer them back into the Playoffs for the first time since the 2007-08 NBA Season. DeRozan, who was also named to his first All-Star berth also led the team in scoring (23.9 ppg) and minutes played (40.3 min) during their postseason run.

“One of the things you want to do is to develop the love of the game in kids,” said DeRozan. “When you’re able to develop that it will be easier to teach the game because the kids are into it. This NBA 3X competition is one way for the kids to learn about the game and themselves. If our presence inspires them then we done good.”

Added Johnson, “I agree. When you love something you put your whole self into it. That means you’re willing to put in all the hard work and make sacrifices. When you do that, the game will be good to you. It has been good for me and many others and it will continue to be good for a great many others.”

The competitive 3x3 tournament featured divisions for boys under-18, under-16, and under-13, and for girls under-18 and under-16. The event will included open categories for both men and women along with an invitation only Celebrity Division featuring popular local TV and music personalities.

Previous NBA stars to grace the NBA 3X event include former Chicago Bull, Orlando Magic, and Los Angeles Laker Horace Grant who was the guest of honor in 2012, and the Houston Rockets’ James Harden and the New Orleans Pelican’s Eric Gordon last year.

“I heard from NBA officials and other NBA players how big the game of basketball is here in the Philippines,” revealed DeRozan. “I think it is evident in the way media ask us questions; they’re knowledgeable about the NBA and us players. And we appreciate that. It’s good to see it up close.”

“It’s good to be here,” beamed Johnson who clearly had a great time.

“NBA fans in the Philippines have been treated to a historic year of activities with the staging of the first-ever NBA preseason game in Southeast Asia in Manila, followed by the opening of NBA Cafe Manila—a first-of-its-kind NBA destination,” said Carlo Singson, Philippines Country Manager, NBA Asia. “With the return of NBA 3X Philippines presented by Sprite, we continue our goal of providing our loyal supporters with authentic ways to engage with the NBA, be it through events, television programming, or social media.”

“In a country where both Sprite and street basketball are tremendously popular, we are glad to be able to support programs that encourage people to play basketball, stay physically active, improve strength and endurance, achieve energy balance, and drink Sprite,” further expounded Teejae Sonza, Marketing Manager for Sparkling of Coca-Cola Philippines. “Sprite has been the presenting partner for NBA 3X Philippines since its launch in 2011 and we look forward to even greater events for entire families to enjoy.”

Scott Levy, Senior Vice President and Managing Partner for NBA Asia, summed up the three-day event: “We’ve been doing a lot of events here for the past decade. Aside from China, here in Asia, it’s always a treat for the NBA to be here in the Philippines. Now I always say that but that’s the truth. For us in NBA Asia, we also want to make Filipino basketball fans happy to see the players they see on television up close.”

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