Saturday, June 1, 2013

From Smart Araneta to SM MOA Arena

Yes, from basketball at Smart Araneta to volleyball at SM MOA Arena. That’s what preoccupied our recent Sundays. And what a good time we have had.

Basketball has always consumed our sports stories. Now volleyball is starting to be noticed. And I’m glad it is beginning to take its place again in our national consciousness. I say again because once upon a time, in my childhood years, volleyball (and I may add, baseball too) was our favorite national game. Be it in  town plazas to the sugar cane fields to the shores or beaches, volleyball was then a passion. During our summer fiesta, the volleyball league was the most awaited event. Whole barrios will come to the town poblacion to watch and cheer for their teams. Controversies were not uncommon then, as teams covet that most important victory. Obviously. I learned how to play volleyball before I went to school and long before I know how to shoot. Truth of the matter, as even my youngest Rago attests, volleyball is more exciting than basketball.

Then basketball came and volleyball faded. And now it's back and it is indeed a welcome development. Football owed  its popularity no doubt to the Fil-Euros/Fil-Ams of the Azkals. But I don’t know exactly what catalysed volleyballs popularity. Credit however should be given to the V-league organizers and its major sponsor, Shakey’s, who all these years continue to host this V-League tournament despite the fact that it was only relegated to small venues and motley crowds. But I think it was last year when its  popularity rose to unprecendented levels during the tough UAAP tournament, climaxed by a “dream” final between traditional rivals Ateneo and La Salle. From the small and lesser known San Juan Arena, they moved to the sports mecca of  Araneta and Arena to overflowing record breaking crowds. Suddenly, volley stars became instant hits to fans and their names becoming household names just like basketball stars. Credit this also to the fact they these stars look like pin up models who could one day end up either as showbiz stars or ramp up models or product endorsers.

We were there during the historic first finals game at Araneta. As usual, Araneta was divided between green and blue. Allysa Valdez, Gretchen Ho, Jem Ferrer, Faile Cainglet et al of the Lady Eagles vs. Michelle Gumabao, Mika Reyes, Ara Galang, of th Lady Archers. And last Sunday, Game 2 of the Shakey’s V league Finals between Ateneo Lady Eagles against first time finalist National University Lady Bulldogs of MVP Dindin Santiago, Myla Pablo, etc. Game 1 went to Ateneo in 3 straight sets and they looked formidable to close the tournament. But the gritty Lady Bulldogs came prepared and right on took the early lead, a signal that it’s going to be a tough match. It was indeed a Sunday thriller. Unfortunately, my wife and kids root for the Lady Eagles and they felt dejected seeing their team losing control and finally bowing to the Bulldogs.

Volleyball is back but it  has changed. Like basketball, it definitely is a game where height matters. We now have many six footer lady spikers.  It is now also a game of power and strength. More apparent however, it is also now a game of charm and beauty.

Watch the 3rd and final game tomorrow, live or on TV. You'll know what I mean.


Chin chin said...

We were able to watch one of the final games on TV and it was exciting to watch. Nice dream victory for NU.

Aileen said...

I suck at volleyball....always afraid of being hit in the head with flying balls hehehehe...

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