#DameTimeManila: Views from the Bench

#DameTimeManila rocked the Araneta!!!

*This was written by my former student, Karl Batungbacal.

I was one of the lucky 14 winners of the #DameTimeManila Instagram contest, and here’s my perspective on Damian Lillard’s promotional event at the Araneta Coliseum last week. Most people know me as an avid Phoenix Suns fan, so when I won the contest, some people said that I wasn’t even a fan of Lillard, but the fact of the matter is if you love basketball and underdogs, you have got to love Damian Lillard. 

I was scrolling through my Instagram feed after a long day, and I saw the advertisement of adidas wherein if your post gets chosen, you win a pair of Patron tickets to the #DameTimeManila and a chance to play on-court. I’m an avid basketball fan who cheers heavily for the underdog teams because I love seeing upsets. Knowing that Damian Lillard is one of the most underrated players in the NBA today, I took a chance on the Instagram contest, and I felt surprised when they messaged me and told me that I won. So I invited a friend of mine, and we both went to the event.

My former student, Karl Batungbacal! What a lucky guy!
(image from Karl Batungbacal)

Man, if just the mere thought of being able to play at the Araneta gave me goosebumps, how do you think I felt when we were told that we’d have a chance to be there with Damian on court? The Instagram contest winners were given a chance to win freebies such as a Damian Lillard jersey and a plush doll if we were to win our respective match-ups for the skills challenge and shooting contest. The organizers placed us in the events and I had the good fortune to be placed in my most favourite event, the skills challenge. Well, I did terribly during the skills challenge, which was a competition that put our ball-handling and lay-up skills to the test. Coincidentally, I sucked during the skills challenge, and I had a feeling that if they placed me in the shooting contest, I would’ve had a better chance but fact of the matter is, I had the unbelievable luck to play at the Araneta Coliseum. At least now I know some of the pressures UAAP players and the pros face when they play there.

When it was time for Dame to come out, we were made to form a line similar to the ones seen during player introductions. When he came out to some really sick beats, it really put a big smile on my face because it was real, and I was able to have a tap from him, hoping that at least some of his basketball skills would be passed on to me. I was there on court, to have one of the greatest fan experiences a kid like me could have. What made it better was the fact that we had a selfie with him and although my face wasn’t entirely visible because of the lighting, it was still a very surreal moment for me. 

A video posted by Enzo Flojo/Hoop Nut (@thehoopnut) on

The other winners and I got to hang back and watch the whole event unfold from the bench. There were times when I just wanted to rush at Damian to get my things signed because I started paying close attention to him when he put even Kobe Bryant to the test during their game at the Rose Bowl in Portland last April 10, 2013, wherein Lillard was just a rookie and Kobe was pre-Achilles injury Kobe. Lillard put up 38, while Kobe went for 47 that night.

The event itself was great and knowing full well that Damian has a small rap career of his own, I felt even more excited every time the arena would be filled with his 2 prominent songs, “They Sleep” and “Bigger Than Us”. A small part of me was wishing that I’d get to hear him rap live because I knew he has the talent for it and I heard one of his freestyles in a YouTube video which was very solid. He didn’t have to swear and when he’s up on the mic, he always talks about something meaningful, not just the usual rap songs of money, power, etc. When he went in to Dame Dolla mode and dropped a couple of bars, I wasn’t disappointed at all. The man has talent for rapping and basketball.

Dame Dolla with some drops!

Despite the great production value, though, I wish we could have had a better meet & greet with Dame and perhaps given more freebies like maybe a signed poster, a jersey, or even a pair of Damian Lillard shoes because to us fans, that is an experience that most likely will not happen ever again in our lives. 

Nevertheless, I do hope that the next time Damian comes back or another NBA player comes to our shores, the winners of the contest will get to feel like they are on the same level as an NBA Superstar, even for just one night. 

Aljon Mariano putting the move on Justin Melton.

Chris Tiu showing off his shooting form.

Damian Lillard giving away some souvenirs to his fans.

Earl Scotthie Thompson with the hops.

Kevin Ferrer soars in his D Lillard 2 PDX Carpet!

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are by Roy Afable.




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