ANTIPOLO CITY — Late great Kobe Bryant has definitely influenced a generation of Filipino basketball players.
When he passed, the players and staff of Maharlika Pilipinas Basketball League made sure to pay tribute to him.
In the first game day of the 2019-20 Chooks-to-Go Lakan Season since Bryant’s passing that featured a triple-header at the Ynares Center here, everyone was asked to stand up and hold a moment of silence for the fallen global icon.
The teams from the first two games, Pasig-Sta. Lucia versus Navotas-Unipak and Iloilo United versus Binan-Luxxe White, also agreed to hold the ball and concede a 24-second violation in their first possessions as a tribute to Laker no. 24.
Then in the final game, Basilan, who won the jump ball, allowed itself to be penalized with a shot-clock violation before home team Rizal-Xentro Mall gave up an eight-second backcourt violation — an homage to the jersey number used by Bryant in his first 10 years in the NBA.
MPBL founder Sen. Manny Pacquiao was devastated Monday after learning the passing of his good friend.
“Alam mo nagulat ako nung lumabas yung balita kaning umaga at halos hindi ako makapaniwala na nawala yung kaibigan ko,” Pacquiao told senate reporters.
“Namatay yung kaibigan ko.”
For their part, some of the players wrote messages of condolences on their shoes for Kobe and his daughter Gigi, including Caloocan’s JM Gonzales, Carlo Escalambre, Radge Tongco, and Damian Lasco; and Muntinlupa’s GJ Ylagan and Dave Moralde.
Basilan’s Allyn Bulanadi, on the other hand, wore a customized Kobe Bryant shirt courtesy of Phenom Sportswear that had “Mamba Forever” printed on it.