Quezon City at 75: The Validation of My Hometown

Last October 11, The City of Stars came alive as Quezon City began celebrating its 75th Diamond Jubilee. Throughout the day, events were done across the six districts of the nation’s largest city. From street parties in each district to the fireworks at midnight that lit up the city bright. However the center of attention was the very firstQuezon City Food Festival held along the recently christened food hub of the city, Maginhawa Street.
 
As early as the festival opened at 9 in the morning, Quezon City residents as well as people from outside the city flocked along the two kilometer stretch to sample what the area’s booming food industry has to offer. The stretch which started at the intersection with Masaya Street and ended at the intersection with Makadios Street was closed to motorists with the exception of vehicles who have been issued car passes to drive along the street.
 
Every restaurant nestled along the street gave food aficionados a lot to offer. From offerings given by café’s, casual dining spots, steakhouses, dessert & tea places catering to different cuisines from around the world such as Filipino, Italian, American, Japanese, among others. The whole stretch caters to anyone coming along on any budget. It is indeed a food lover’s dream to come and sample what this street has to offer.
 
In addition to the restaurants, tents were set up for other businesses who hope to leave their imprints on to the people who went along the festival during the course of the day. Also, an evening concert and street party was held at the midpoint of the entire festival grounds. It was indeed a festive atmosphere throughout the whole of Maginhawa Street from morning until midnight. And to cap the day off, a 15 minute fireworks display that went off near simultaneous as other areas of the city with street parties lit up the skies and brought awe to the people who stayed the night out and celebrate what this city has to offer to the world.
 
Though there were a few hiccups that happened during the festival as some food tenants ran out of food or items to sell as the night went along as well as the lack of portable toilets along the whole stretch. The very first Quezon City Food Festival was generally a success. Indeed it left memorable moments for everyone who came in and celebrated what this city has to offer. We are certain that this will not be the very last time this festival will come along in our lifetimes. Hopefully, there will be improvements made for next year’s event.

 

With other activities lined up for the rest of the year such as today’s celebration at the Quezon Memorial Circle, the Quezon City Book Fair and the Quezon City Half-Marathon Night Run. Indeed last night, Quezon City proved itself of being one of the most progressive citiesin the country.
 
On personal note, this event validated of how proud I am to call Quezon City my hometown. The Maginhawa area has been a part of my life for 11 years of my existence with my school days in elementary and in high school. At the time I was having my education in the area; it was known to have more internet shops than restaurants. I never thought that this area transformed into a celebrated food hub in a short span of time. This place will forever have a spot in my heart and mind for I made a lot of good memories here. I will always have a smile on my face coming back to take either my family or friends and enjoy a good meal together. So for anyone who wants to come I will be happy to show you around.

After the Asian Games, will you give up on Gilas?

It has been a eventful 14 months in the history of Philippine basketball. From winning silver at 2013 FIBA Asia Championship on home soil. To those thrilling tune-up games leading up to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. To the eventful return of Philippine basketball on the world map with a gallant performance at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Despite the fact, Gilas Pilipinas won only 1 of 5 games and did not making it to the next round of the tournament finishing 21st in the 24 team tournament. The world was put on notice with what they have accomplished. All the way to Incheon for the Asian Games. Where unfortunately, the team suffered a disastrous finish settling for only 7th place in the tournament.

The tournament was a disaster for the national team. After winning their opening match against India, they suffered a tough loss against Iran where the team kept in close distance with the Iranians. Then into the next stage of the competition, they suffered a shock loss to Qatar. Followed up by another tough loss against the host nation and eventual gold winners Korea. Then a victory that felt like a defeat against Kazakhstan ending the medal hopes of the team. Losing to China and ending the tournament with a win over Mongolia for the 7th place finish.

With a twist of fate, the team that brought a nation together, has completely tore it apart. As the critics emerged blasting the team on every aspect. Majority of the brunt was put on Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. Reyes, who on a press interview blasted naturalized player Marcus Douthit after the loss to Qatar which led Filipino basketball fans to blast him on his own miscues during the course of the tournament. Primarily on the team’s failure to execute in end game situations that has been present even in their stint at the FIBA Basketball World Cup thus leading to the infamous moniker that is “Choke” Reyes. In addition, to his choices on rotating players during the course of the game. Calls for him to vacate his coaching job for the nationals spread like wildfire. Critics wanted to give other great coaches like Tim Cone or Yeng Guiao the opportunity to call the shots for the nationals.

The downfall of the team in the Asiad, unfortunately overshadowed Jimmy Alapag’s farewell run donning a “PILIPINAS” jersey. This after he came out for one last shot with the national team after earlier calling himself to retire after the tournament in Spain. As well as the good name that this team have put on the basketball world map during those eventful days in Sevilla.

This graph pretty much explains how “most” people felt after each tournament that Gilas had played since last year.

Photos used were from multiple blog sites.
 
For obvious reasons, I did not choose to use a person from Gilas Pilipinas for this graph. It would undo everything that I wrote in my previous blog entry.
 
As a fan of this team. I am saddened as any Gilas fan there is in the world about the outcome of the last tournament. After all the hard work and inspiration that this team gave to the nation. The team indeed suffered a major setback in those tough days in Incheon. That forced own basket vs Kazakhstan pretty much summed up all the struggles this team encountered.
 
I may have the right to exercise tough criticism on the team itself. However, I choose not to do so. I mean on a personal note, it is unfair to criticize someone for not being able to execute what the people wanted. 
 
As far as Coach Chot Reyes is concerned, I’m not blaming him. I mean what’s the point?!? You give praise when he coaches well enough to win games for the team, but stab him in the back when he commits something unforgivable in coaching that the team losses. 
 
This ain’t the first time that anyone on this team has been criticized, remember Gary David at last year’s FIBA Asia tournament? Some fans called him out not worthy of being a part the national team after his struggles during the tournament. Fortunately for Gary, his fellow players and most people backed him up and was instrumental in that quarter-final win vs Kazakhstan last year.
 
His critics have valid points which are worthy of consideration. I can honestly say, he is the most polarizing head coach that Philippine basketball has ever seen. Some people love him, some people hate him. But I have to say he is still one of the best coaches this country has ever seen in this generation. Take out what happened in Incheon, he coached the team back into the world stage of basketball.
 
I’m not asking anyone to stop sharing their sentiments good or bad. For one fact, that this nation is truly obsessed with the game of basketball. That is something I truly admire about our passion for the sport.
 
Speaking of the Philippines in the Asian Games, the country brought home 15 medals from Incheon. The lone GOLD medal came from cycling athlete Daniel Caluag. 3 silver medals (2 in wushu, 1 in boxing) and 11 bronze medals (5 in taekwondo, 3 in boxing, 1 each in wushu, archery and karate)
 
There is the outspoken minority of Filipinos who think that we should focus on sports where we can actually have a better shot of success or winning a medal in international tournaments. We should not forget about them too. After all these kind of tournaments aren’t always about basketball. It was unfortunate that only a few got to learn about these medal finishes by our athletes. Indeed, it should be a stepping stone to improve the general standing of Philippine sports. I do hope that our sports program gets better in the near future.
 
In ending, as for Gilas Pilipinas in the near future. For sure, it will debut a new look team once the next tournament comes next year which is the FIBA Asia Tournament that is a qualifying tournament for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the Olympics. While the second and third place teams will have to go through a Olympic qualifying tournament for three wild card spots at the Olympics.

Whether Gilas management decides to keep Chot Reyes or choose another coach. So be it as long as it’s for the best interest of the program.

 
Is it time to give up on this team? I personally think otherwise. As a fan, I will continue to support the national team 100%
 
If there is anything that I have learned as a fan of teams like the Houston Rockets and the UST Growling Tigers. That is to never give up on a team no matter what happens. Stick through everything good or bad. 
 
I have yet to taste genuine joy as a basketball fan whenever a NBA Finals or UAAP Finals is being played out as both of these teams have not won the championship in their respective leagues ever since the day I started rooting for these teams.

Some of my friends have tasted that genuine joy whenever their team/school won the title.

 
Yet I come back every year with renewed hope that one day they will reach the promise land and as a fan I get to taste the joy of going all the way to the promised land.
 
There will be time for the wounds to heal. It will be another 11 months until Gilas Pilipinas returns to battle in the Asian stage. As a fan, will you give up? or hang on through good and bad times?

Gilas Pilipinas 2014: The team that brought Philippine basketball back on the world map.

Prior to writing this one, I have seen a lot of writers and bloggers that have already written their take on this matter. Even so, I will still write this one. The passion is burning high on my body, on my mind and in my heart. So let’s get to it.

 
For the last six days, Filipinos within our soil and around the world witnessed one of the defining moments in the history of Philippine basketball. The story of a nation’s unlikely love affair where in the eyes of anyone outside a Filipino is a genetic mismatch when it comes to the international stage.

For the last six days, Filipinos set aside their differences to unite as one nation in support of a team carrying “PILIPINAS” in their royal blue, white and red jersey. The nation went through a lot over these six days over Sevilla, Spain. From the glimpses of brilliance that shocked the world of basketball to the unimaginable heartbreak when we fell short after a great fight against the countries this team battled. When it all ended with a sweet and hard-earned victory over Senegal. There was pride, hope and optimism running through every Filipino who bare witness to this moment. Whether they were in Sevilla throughout their run, on home soil, or around the world where a Filipino is watching this moment.

Truly this was a team that despite falling short of victories on the win column will be remembered as the team that brought Philippine basketball to where it truly belonged, on the basketball world map.

Let’s run down a few of the memorable tournaments of this run by Gilas Pilipinas at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

When Gary David or Japeth Aguilar, despite playing limited minutes giving a boost on the scoreboard whenever they score a basket. 

LA Tenorio competing tooth and nail with Puerto Rican NBA veteran J.J. Barea in a showdown of court generals.

Ranidel De Ocampo, Paul Lee and Jeff Chan dropping three point bombs on the scoreboard.

The grit of a Marc Pingris and Jayson Castro who played through the injuries to give everything they have and show the world what “PUSO” means to the Filipino nation.

Gabe Norwood’s work on the defensive end and two Kodak moments when he delivered two highlight reel dunks over Argentina. One of which was over NBA and international veteran Luis Scola.

The overall efficiency that June Mar Fajardo brought throughout the tournament and a inside presence this team lacked in previous tournaments that spanned over generations of basketball.

The play of Andray Blatche, our naturalized NBA player who lit up the scoreboard with three pointers and drives to the basket. He also played through injury showing that he may not be a born Filipino, but his heart and passion showed the grit of a Filipino.

The Captain Jimmy Alapag who played in his final international tournament carrying the PILIPINAS blue, white and red. Dropping three point bombs that were beyond NBA range. The steady play on running the offense and sending us home with our heads up high by nailing clutch free throws in the team’s final game over Senegal.

Of course the coaching staff, led by Coach Chot Reyes together with assistant coaches Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Josh Reyes and consultant Tab Baldwin. It was with their sacrifice of calling the shots for the team that bare fruit. They went through a lot especially in a nation where both players and the coaches are under the microscope at all times.

For everyone following the PBA every conference, they set their differences aside for each other. Imagine this, Alaska fans cheering once again for LA Tenorio. San Mig Coffee fans cheering every Jeff Chan and Paul Lee three point bombs or Gabe Norwood tearing the rim down and stop. San Miguel Beer fans (just like me) cheering a Jimmy Alapag long bomb or Ranidel de Ocampo bucket. Rain or Shine fans cheering on the grit of Marc Pingris.

This team gave the world of basketball something to remember. Who would have thought that this team would compete in close games to some of the world’s best countries when it comes to basketball? Prior to the tournament, people expected Gilas Pilipinas to lose by huge double digit margins. This team proved to the world otherwise. 

They only lost by three points in a game that went into overtime, in the very first game of the whole tournament against 16th ranked and 2013 Eurobasket 4th placer Croatia

They lost twelve points to 5th ranked and one of four tournament wild cards in Greece

They only lost by four points to 3rd ranked and one-time Olympic champions Argentina.

The biggest heartbreak came when we competed well against 17th ranked and 2013 FIBA Americas runner-up Puerto Rico only to fall short by four points. Sealing our fate of not advancing into the next stage of the competition.

The final game against Senegal is when the door was finally broken as they won in overtime by two points ending their run on a positive note and to the delight of every Filipino as they win a game for the first time at the FIBA Basketball World since 1974. Imagine that, 40 years since the last time a team carrying “PILIPINAS” won on the world stage of basketball.

What also made it special is that this team gained new found respect and along the way. From international sports writers and analysts like ESPN’s Mark JonesMike Prada of SB Nation, and NBA writer Couper Moorhead. To  who is in a way a Spanish equivalent of Grantland writer, Pacific Rims author and Pinoy Hoops host Rafe Bartholomew, who followed this team starting from their tune-ups in Guadalajara, Spain against teams like Angola, Egypt and the Dominican Republic and drove 600 miles to Sevilla to follow the team into every single game of this tournament. 

The team also gained the respect also from opposing players and coaches, Argentine coach Julio Lamas was quoted that their game against the Philippines was “the most difficult game he coached” in his coaching career. Puerto Rican point guard J.J. Barea giving props to Gilas guard LA Tenorio. Greek coach Fotios Katsikaris acknowledging the tip he got from his Philippine-based friends about how good the team is.

Also on a personal note for me, there was also a guy who goes by the name of Jason Williams who like me is a huge Houston Rockets fan. From the first game of the team in the tournament, he fell in love with the team. He said to me after the Philippines lost to Puerto Rico that it was like seeing the Rockets misfortunes the past season all over again. But when the win over Senegal came. He gave me a nice shout-out.

Photo ©Karl Carandang
Well, there will always be scrutiny about how this team played out. Filipinos whose love for basketball is unlike the world has ever seen (take Lithuania as our equal when it comes to passion) will have something to scrutinize. As they say, it’s always easy to scrutinize whenever you’re sitting at home eating good food, drinking a good cup, and being with your family watching the game. 
 
People pointing on coach Chot Reyes and his choice of rotation of players, on why he didn’t play certain players in crunch moments. People pointing on Andray Blatche’s play in which some critics reminded them of his notoriety during his playing days in the NBA with the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets. People pointing on Jayson Castro’s late game decisions. And a host of other scrutiny a person can think of.
 
And also the thought of racism among some Filipinos over opposing players. One notable victim was Croatian player Dario Šarić who was born with a cleft lip, bore the brunt of racist comments by Filipinos on the FIBA Facebook page showing his photo. Again, just like everyone who carried the “PILIPINAS” royal blue, white and red. He was carrying the “CROATIA” red and white and the hopes of another nation.
 
Nobody wearing their respective colors, whether it be PILIPINAS, USA, España, Lietuva, Brasil, México, Srbija, Dominicana, Slovenija, Hellas, Türkiye, France, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Angola, Croatia, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Ukraine, New Zealand, I.R. Iran, Korea or Egypt (Yes, I have to mention what is on the jersey of every nation that played in this tournament) deserves to be disrespected like that.
 
But enough with my rant, let’s keep this as optimistic as possible. The run of our national team may have come to an end. However, we’ll come out of this with renewed optimism. Optimism and hope that this run won’t be the last one we’ll see in our lifetime. For Team Gilas Pilipinas, this ain’t the end but only the beginning of something special
 
I believe, we believe. Let’s move forward, on to the next tournament, in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and the next FIBA Asia Championship in China come 2015. Hopefully we can play on the Olympic stage on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I am supporting our bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup which will grow from 24 teams this year to 32 teams.
 
Let me say this with pride once again. 
 
“Ako si Karl Carandang, pinanganak at lumaki sa Quezon City, buong pusong sumusporta sa Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
 
In English:
“My name is Karl Carandang, born and raised in Quezon City, wholeheartedly supporting Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
 
THANK YOU GILAS PILIPINAS. For giving us a reason to come together as one nation. Looking for more journeys with our team in the future. Thank you for a great run at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
 
LABAN PILIPINAS! PUSO!

Albertus Magnus Building, memories and legends were made.

Yesterday, I returned to UST once again. It’s been more than a week since my last visit. But, there was a good reason to come back. It was more than just a plain visit, but it was to coach the Quiz Bee team which I was a part of the past two years and won multiple competitions along the way. It felt great to be on the other side of the fence. Of coaching and motivating the team, and not competing to put up a good fight. After spending the afternoon there, I went home tired yet thankful of the opportunity that was given to me today. Little did I know that something was brewing along my beloved college.

Today, I got the news on social media from one of my mentors, that CTHM will start holding classes on the new Buenaventura Garcia Paredes, O.P. Building (otherwise known as the Thomasian Alumni Center) on Thursday. It will be leaving the Albertus Magnus Building which has been it’s home since it’s inception in 2006. The new building will primarily host the Office of Alumni Relations. It will also house every college/faculty-level alumni organizations. But what will the building bring to CTHM? It will give the college new classrooms and facilities that will cater to the needs of the college and it is fully air-conditioned. One side note of the upcoming move, the CTHM offices will still remain at the Albertus Magnus Building. I haven’t personally gone into the new building in my last visit. But I’m hopeful I will be able to come inside, the next time I come back.

On a personal note, there is always that sign of envy that I never got to experience having a class inside the new building as I just graduated. But it was indeed a measure of right timing. We may never experience the vibe of the new building as students. Perhaps on a jokeful thought, the move could cut-off the college from “civilization” of the UST campus. As majority of the buildings of other colleges are closely attached to one another. Despite the envy of it all, at least we were able to come out last March with flying colors and that’s the most important thing of it all. At the end of the day, it’s for the good of the college moving forward.

Then again, a lot of mine as well as others memories of their college life were made inside the Albertus Magnus Building. From every class to spending a moment at the cafeteria or the fenced area. From the ultra cool language lab to the consultation room and faculty room where I once trained whenever I compete. From events/exhibits done inside the building to having my OJT at the travel bureau inside the building and plenty other experiences in this building that molded me into who I am today.

The nostalgia of the Albertus Magnus will always be there for me. Whenever I or anyone else who belongs in CTHM step their foot inside the building, we will have that feeling of how it was inside it. Every success and failure that was made here. From the beginning until the end of our collegiate journeys.

It will be an exciting time for the college with the move into the spanking new building. As the current generation of students will now make their own legends and memories inside it. As an alumnus, I’m optimistic with all the changes that are coming along. I hope for the best.

Alas, I will always remember the Albertus Magnus Building as a second home for the four years of my Thomasian journey.

Godspeed, Albertus Magnus 
K-Smoove

P.S. If I get called to coach the team again, where would I go?

International basketball will never be the same.

Yesterday, basketball fans from all over the world we’re watching the Blue vs White exhibition game of the United States’ basketball team that will compete in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. The game which was played at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas featured players who look to earn a slot to represent their country as the US defends it’s title in August. The game had it’s highlights. Derrick Rose who missed majority of the previous NBA season showing his explosiveness that basketball fans missed during his time on the shelf. Damian Lillard lobbing up a 70 foot buzzer beater. As well as many more highlights.

But, in one instant what was supposed to be a showcase turned into a nightmare. There are videos and photos of the incident scattered around the internet. However, due to the graphic nature of the injury. It will not be shown in this entry.

James Harden was running for a fast break attempt, behind him was Paul George who was looking to make the defensive play. Disaster strikes when George after he tried to block Harden’s attempt landed on the hoop stanchions causing his right foot bend like a pretzel. In a similar fashion to Anderson Silva’s kick during his second battle with Chris Weidman to cap off 2013 in UFC. Immediately, the Thomas & Mack Center went silent. The players, coaches and fans were in disbelief. Tears ran down among those who witnessed the terrible injury. Harden was down to his knees, Kyrie Irving was crying on his father’s shoulders, Derrick Rose had thoughts on what he went through in recent years. The game was eventually called off, George was escorted to hospital on a stretcher. Both squads huddled up in arms for George.

Immediately after the injury, which caused a stream on social media as people remember similar freak injuries that have happened in recent years. From Anderson Silva to Kevin Ware’s Elite Eight injury last season to Shaun Livingston’s injury from years ago. Fellow NBA players, athletes, coaches, team executives and fans from all over the world sent their thoughts and prayers to George for a speedy recovery immediately after the news broke out. George underwent successful surgery but would “likely miss” the entire 2014-15 NBA season.

The injury also gave a deep hole not only to the NBA and the USA basketball program, but also to international basketball as a whole. It was 22 years ago, the USA basketball program allowed NBA players to play for their country in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics after competing with players from the collegiate level. Since the famed “Dream Team”, the USA has won gold in 6 of the last 7 Summer Olympics and 2 FIBA Basketball World Cup tournaments (1994 and 2010). In turn, it allowed other countries to catch up with the sports. Notable examples were Spain, Argentina, France and Brazil who have NBA players play for their respective countries. With Argentina winning gold in the 2004 Athens Olympics, and Spain winning the 2006 FIBA World Championship and finishing silver in the last two Summer Olympics.

Only time will tell if whether or not the NBA will continue to send their players to international competition or will this be the end of an era in international basketball. But early into this story, it can be said that international basketball will never ever be the same again. We’ll be on watch on what will happen next.

On a personal note, this has been sad. Especially for a guy like me who loves the sport and plays it on a casual level. Some people may call people like me who pay attention to this more than anything else happening in the world “you care less for other things”. It’s true there are other things worth paying attention to than this. But, this means something to me on a personal level. So if you have friends or family members who feel the same way that I do, please do bear with them. Nobody wants to see a terrible injury like this in any sport.

So for Paul George who happens to be one of my favorite NBA players not in a red and white Rockets uniform. I wish you a speedy recovery. Hope you can come back better than ever. We hope to see you again on the hard court. This ain’t the end for you. It’s only the beginning.

Photo © Basketball Forever


#PrayForPaulGeorge
K-Smoove

QuizUp: The app that will light up your brains.

Last month, I kept on looking for applications I can use with my phone. An application I will enjoy for the long-term. Then as I browse through the Google Play Store, I found the app that will change my life forever. I’m here to tell you more about the applications and the experiences I had playing it over the last month.

Photo ©Plain Vanilla Games

QuizUp is an app developed by Plain Vanilla Games. It was first launched last year on the App Store for iOS users. It was only last March when they released the application on the Google Play Store for Android users. QuizUp is an application to test your knowledge on a range of different topics. From topics about Geography, Sports, Nature, Science, Business, Music, TV, Arts, Games, and a range of other topics that add up as the days go by. Recently, they added a FIFA World Cup category with topics about the event and the nations participating in it.

Each game of QuizUp is composed of 7 questions worth a total of 160 points. The first six questions are worth 20 points each. While the last question has double points where a player can get a maximum of 40 points. It’s also a game of speed as players are given 10 seconds to answer. A second lost would mean a point off the score (2 points on the last question). There is also a finish bonus of 40 points if you finish all 7 questions and a win bonus of 100 points in you win the match. In case of a draw, the victory bonus is halved to 50 points. Yes, draws happen and count with your records. No victory bonus is given in losses.

For a person like me who grew fond of quiz bee competitions over the past couple of years. Having been tested under time pressure a countless number of times. This app is a perfect fit for me and something I enjoy playing on a daily basis. Over the last month, I played a range of different topics. I won most of my games, but also drawn or lost a couple. It was just yesterday, when I reached a total of 1000 levels played on QuizUp. Here are some photos of my experience with the app:

 Yes, I played a couple of rounds in German.
As of writing, I lead in three categories in the Philippines.
Passed the 1,000 level mark yesterday.
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
So for those who love to test their brains on a host of different topics. QuizUp is the application for you. It is available on the Google Play Store for Android and App Store for iOS.
 
My brain is being teased every single day!
K-Smoove

After two months, this blog returns with a new name.

It has been two months since I last wrote something in this blog. When I was reeling from the heartbreak one guy from Portland, Oregon named Damian Lillard ended the playoff run of my beloved team the Houston Rockets. But yeah, I moved on from all of that. Plenty of things happened since. Now, I’m back with a new name and a new look for this blog.

Starting today, this thought ladder I built for the last two years will now be called Manila Red Nation. It’s a simple name but speaks well of who I really am. A Filipino fan of the Houston Rockets. Of course, my blog will not always talk about basketball. It will always be about my thoughts on different things happening in my life and the world around us. As with this entry, it’s a catch-up of what happened since I last wrote here.

As for Lillard and his Portland Trail Blazers, they met their Waterloo in a five game defeat to the eventual NBA Champions, the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs dethroned the two-time NBA champions Miami Heat, also in five games to claim their fifth NBA title in franchise history. Though my team failed to win it all this season. At least, the team I picked in the Finals won.

Then the 2014 NBA Draft happened. The Cleveland Cavaliers would pick Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins #1 overall in the third time they picked #1 in the last four years. Then LeBron James decided to come home and once again play for his beloved Northeast Ohio when he made his decision to return to the Cavaliers after four years in South Beach where he led them to two NBA titles. That move set off a domino effect on the other free agents across the league. Players moved teams, while some stayed. Notable moves so far were Pau Gasol to the Bulls, Paul Pierce to the Wizards, Jason Kidd to coach the Bucks, Lionel Hollins to coach the Nets. While notable hold-overs were Miami’s Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh and New York’s Carmelo Anthony.

As for the Rockets so far, Chandler Parsons left for the Mavericks, Jeremy Lin was traded to the Lakers, Omer Asik was traded to the Pelicans. While some former Rockets returned to the fold with Trevor Ariza (from the Wizards) and Joey Dorsey (last played for FC Barcelona in Spain) returning to the fold. They will also bring Dorsey’s FC Barcelona teammate in Greek player Kostas Papanikolau which the Rockets also hold the rights for. Still, it was painful when Chris Bosh who was deemed to join the Rockets after LeBron’s move decided to stay with the Heat. So far, it’s a strikeout, the team has yet to get a possible third piece to truly contend for the title. But the off-season is far from over. Who knows what may happen.

With LeBron James coming home, it’s an opportunity for me to rekindle the time I supported “The King” during his first stint with the Cavaliers. I admit I was one of those guys who did not like see him leave Cleveland for Miami. For four years, I rooted against him and the Heat. But now that he’s back, apart from the fact that the Rockets will always be my #1 team to root for. I would love for him to lead Cleveland to an NBA championship that has been long overdue.

With NBA off-season in full swing. We also witnessed the first PBA Grand Slam in 16 years with the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers win all three conferences this season. UAAP basketball is back, in my first year to root for the UST Growling Tigers as an alumnus. I do hope the long overdue UAAP basketball title will come to España this year. And our national team Gilas Pilipinas are making their preparations for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. A must-watch will be “The Last Homestand” as Gilas Pilipinas will battle the Fibr All-Stars composed of NBA stars like Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard, Blake Griffin, James Harden, Paul George, Damian Lillard, Kyle Lowry, and many more and will be spearheaded by former NBA coach John Lucas coming up tomorrow at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Well, that’s enough of the basketball talk, over the last month, I watched the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil to get a taste of what the world’s #1 sport is really like. We’ve seen it all. The defending champions Spain getting knocked out early, Countries from the Americas having a field day in the group stage. The US team winning American hearts. Luis Suarez’s bite costing Uruguay. Colombia’s new ace in James (pronounced Ha-mes) Rodriguez. Brazilian star Neymar getting hurt. The host nation giving up 10 goals in their last two games to settle a disappointing 4th place behind the Netherlands. Argentina’s Lionel Messi winning the Golden Boot. But the tournament belonged to Die Mannschaft as Germany knocked off Argentina for their fourth World Cup title at the world famous Maracaña Stadium in Rio de Janeiro as Mario Götze becomes the 2014 version of Andres Iniesta with an extra time goal that propelled the Germans to the title and denying Argentina the pleasure of winning a World Cup on the soil of their eternal rivals in Brazil.

As for my personal life. Well, I’ll be looking for a job very soon. I just need some inspiration on what I will do in my life in the future. I need a few more stops to get a feel for what I need to do in life. I’d be looking forward to register for the 2016 national elections after failing 2 years ago since I made my move very late. To cap everything off, I’m looking forward to actively blog here once again especially with the new look and new inspiration I’m getting with the name change.

So with all that I have written today. I welcome you to the new face of my thought ladder that is Manila Red Nation.

This blog entry is dedicated to my late grandmother Juliana “Inay Laki” Deriquito-Reyes who passed away last June 13 at the age of 89.

Coming off the shelf!
K-Smoove

K-Smoove's Thought Ladder. A blogger who stands for what he believes in.

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