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Zamboanga’s Das Esa embraces ‘Tausug Hero’ tag

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Tiebreaker Times Zamboanga's Das Esa embraces 'Tausug Hero' tag 3x3 Basketball Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 News  Zamboanga Valientes Junnie Navarro Das Esa 2019 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 Season 2019 Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3x3 President's Cup

When the Zamboanga Valientes played their pre-season game in Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas 3×3, a large section of the audience cheered especially for them. Well – specifically for Das Esa.

For every shot he swooshed, the cheers of “Esa!” grew louder and louder.

But according to team owner Junnie Navarro, that has been the case ever since he recruited him three years ago.

“Na-scout ko siya sa Zamboanga, dun sa liga na Ramadan’s Cup. Isa si Das Esa, isa sa mga nagpanalo ng laro dun,” the passionate owner of the Valientes recalled. “Nung nakita ko siya, immediately kinuha ko siya sa MPBL.

“Nung nag-home game kami sa Zamboanga, full house yung coliseum at sinisigaw yung name niya. Simula nun, kahit sa’n kami pumunta, sinusundan siya ng mga tao. Parang hero talaga siya sa Zamboanga – the Tausug Hero.”

Esa’s story is a little different, though, as few parts of Mindanao have developed good basketball programs – including his hometown of Cebu. That is why the common folk easily relate to him.

“Galing po ako sa Jolo. Sa Jolo mahirap yung laro ng basketball doon, mahirap makakuha ng improvements doon. Kaya pumunta kami ng Zamboanga ma-expose sa iba’t ibang liga,” shared Esa, who stands at 5-foot-10.

“Nakita kami ni Boss Junnie at binigyan ng opportunity na makalaro sa malalaking liga tulad nito.”

With every game, he became a cult hero to the Zamboangeños, who tune in to watch his games either on TV or live. But with it comes pressure.

“Siyempre mahirap yun. Hindi mo akalain na ganun itawag nila sa akin,” Esa remarked about being called as the ‘Tausug Hero’. “Supposed to be dapat normal na tao lang ako pero binigyan ako ng pangalan na yun.

“Malaking pressure siya kaya ine-enjoy ko na lang.”

Come the Chooks Pilipinas 3×3 President’s Cup, Esa and the rest of the Valientes will be playing in a different field – the 3×3 hardcourt. But in this discipline, he believes that they have the advantage, as size is not king in 3×3.

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“Iba yung experience dito. Yung kalaban mo malalaki, kami maliliit lang kaya kailangan namin daanin sa bilis,” shared Esa, who led Zamboanga to a victory during the group stages of the pre-season tourney.

Moreover, they are planning to show the country what Zamboanga basketball is all about.

“Yung Valientes talaga yung team ng Zamboanga City. Mahal ng tao at sinusundan. Ngayon, susundan nila ito sa Chooks dahil homegrown talaga kami, sila Jonathan Pareno, Das Esa, [Grevanni] Rublico – talagang tubong Zamboanga. Bagong simula itong 3×3 ito,” said Navarro.

“Lahat ng laro i-dedicate namin sa kanila.”

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