Posted by Maestro Athletics on

Before I even picked up a ball, the game was always present in our tiny Filipino home. But let’s back up a bit and let me give you a little back story about myself. I promise you, everything will tie into each other eventually like an episode of “How I Met Your Mother” (For those who haven’t watched the series at all, highly recommend it because it’s “LEGENDARY!”). Our house was the meeting spot for many family events because we lived with my Lolo and Lola (grandpa and grandma for you non-Filipinos). Like I said, our home was small, but the De Asis/Zabala residence never took into account capacity. Large gatherings in our house were a common daily occurrence. My Mom’s siblings and their families would be at our house every night for dinner. Sunday dinners were an everyday thing at our house. For as long as I can remember, our home was always the epicenter for family events.

What does this have to do with basketball? Everything, because like I said before, sooner or later within these blogs all this information will tie in and make sense (Remember, “LEGENDARY!”). But back to what I was saying before I went off on a tangent on my light family background. Gatherings at our house consisted of watching sporting events, at times, or going to my cousins Chris and Jon’s (who we later dubbed as KFC and KJ, which again, will be shared sooner or later) house down the street because they had the special “black box” that could illegally stream the Seattle SuperSonic games that were on cable. (Funny to think, that at one point, you had to pay to watch the Sonic’s play their home games!) My Dad was a fanatic of the game (and also had some game himself, which we’ll get into later in this post). As a kid, the way he introduced me to basketball was lasering passes at me and yelling “CHEST PASS” from across the room. At the time, that shit used to scare me to the point that I never wanted anything to do with it because those passes would literally drill me in the chest, even when I had my hands up ready to catch it. It probably had a lot to do with the fact that I was into Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Power Rangers and whatever else was popular in the 90’s to kids. But those chest passes, I’m telling you, still haunt me to this day.

Sunday mornings used to consist of the NBA on NBC on the television with my Dad laying in bed and watching every game that was on that day. Sometimes I would sit and watch, but I really had no interest. That was until he made a big fuss about some guy that was apparently “returning” to the NBA after he had just retired. My Dad rarely showed emotion, so I knew it was a big deal when he was telling me (again no interest in basketball at the time) that this dude was coming back to play basketball. He liked this guy so much, he went out of his way to try and find his shoes, that were sold out everywhere mind you, at any cost. Those shoes were the Air Jordan 9’s and that player was Michael Jordan.

I really didn’t understand why it was such a big deal. I remember sitting there with my Dad, him watching in awe of this basketball player who at the time I had no idea who he was. I can’t recall what happened in that game, but I do remember how my Dad watched it so intently. Quietly and to himself like he always watched basketball games. He wasn’t one to cheer or show any type of emotion when watching anything, but there was something about how he watched Michael Jordan’s return to the game of basketball that made me realize how much joy this sport brought him. 

Not too long after that, I noticed my Dad started to run every day. I didn’t pay it any mind, but it caught my attention for some reason. Then one Sunday, he asked my brother Christian and I if we wanted to come watch his basketball game. See, prior to this, I had only heard stories of my Dad playing basketball and being quote on quote, “one of the best players in the neighborhood back in the Philippines” as my Uncle would say. I never took it seriously though because he always messed around with us, so I thought he was just hyping my Dad up to make him look good in front of me and my brother. I then pieced it together that he had started running to prepare himself for this Filipino Men’s League he was asked to join.

So, here we were, our first time getting to watch him play. We sat in the bleachers at the North Seattle Boys and Girls Club, watching another game before my Dad’s. I watched intently on how my Dad warmed up and got ready. He pulled out the Jordan 9’s from his duffle bag and laced them up tightly. Put his maroon and gold U-TEX jersey on (it was a Filipino men’s league and all the teams were named after PBA teams) and then threw on a white Jordan shirt to warm up in. He started jogging up and down the carpeted sideline in front of us with a ball slamming it down with force. Stutter stepping, changing pace and then shooting the ball in the air. It was a different environment than I was used to seeing my Dad in. But one thing I remember vividly was how focused he looked as soon as he stepped on the floor.

The game started and as my brother and I sat there, we decided to keep track of how many points he scored. In the back of my mind, I remember thinking that if he scored more than 3 or 4 times it was a solid outing for him, as long as they won. As we started counting on our fingers “2… 4… 6… 8… 10…” in the first 10 minutes of the game. I looked at Christian in disbelief then told him to count on his fingers, “2… 4… 6… 8… 10…” again! We were tapped out of fingers and the game was still early in the second half. By the end of the game, he had scored 36 points and his team came out with the win! From that Sunday forward, I made it an absolute must that I had to come watch my Dad play. At the end of that season, his team won the championship. Then at their end of the season banquet, he won every award that they had. Season MVP, best guard, scoring champ, defensive player of the league, finals MVP and me and my brother sat there in awe as he walked up every single time to receive his awards.

Watching my Dad play that season, winning the championship and witnessing him receive all those awards, brought me back to that very day when we were in my parent’s room watching Michael Jordan’s infamous return. I now knew how he felt that day watching his favorite player. That moment I fell in love with the game of basketball watching my favorite player every Sunday dominate the competition he faced. I was absolutely hooked just like my Dad was.

Thanks Dad,


Dad with my brother Christian at the end of the season banquet and a couple of the trophies he received that night...

Dad receiving another trophy from the dude's who ran the league...

Dad in action. Not from the same season, but only photo I could find of him playing. He dubbed this photo the "Fadeaway Dunk" haha...


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  • That last picture of your dad hoopin’ – Greenwood Boys and Girls club?! Same one where we used to get our Thursday Night Hoops in?!

    patrick villanueva on

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