Most of the time, exhibition games are free-flowing with little to no defense, instead played to wow the crowd.
FEU Tamaraws Mac Belo and Mike Tolomia admitted that they thought that way when they took part in the showcase during Kobe Bryant’s Mamba Mentality Tour with Nike back in 2016.
The two UAAP gold medalists were among the select collegiate players that went head-to-head against a group of PBA cagers led by Jimmy Alapag and Cliff Hodge in a scrimmage.
“Siyempre kami, ine-expect namin relax-relax lang,” said Belo.
“Akala ko, chill-chill lang, ganun.”
“Alam mo naman din ang Pilipino, ‘pag mga exhibition game, parang papetiks-petiks,” Tolomia added.
But they were wrong. And Bryant himself made them realize that during the game itself.
After the all-pro squad scored on an easy bucket, the five-time NBA champion and 2008 league MVP immediately stopped play and told the varsity players that they shouldn’t be playing lax.
“Nung nag-timeout siya or sa huddle, parang nagalit siya. Parang walang diin ‘yung laro,” Tolomia recalled.
“Ayaw pala ni Kobe ng ganun,” Belo added.
“Sabi niya every time daw may gagawin dapat one-hundred percent ‘go hard’ ka.”
In the end, though, the collegiate players bowed to their more experienced counterparts. But Tolomia and Belo will forever treasure the lesson and the experience they had with the late icon.
“‘Yun ‘yung nakatatak sa ‘kin, ‘pag may gagawin ka, bigay mo ‘yung one-hundred percent mo,” shared Belo.
“‘Yung ganung experience ,bihira dumating sa buhay ng isang player, na maturuan ng legend.”
“‘Yung Mamba Mentality kasi pinakita niya talaga ‘yun eh. Sinasabi niya ‘pag naglaro ka, bigay mo talaga one-hundred percent mo at puso mo. Nakita naman natin ‘yun nung naglalaro pa siya,” Tolomia said.
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