NLEX gets lift from Yeng fan

Joaquin Henson - The Philippine Star
NLEX gets lift from Yeng fan
Yeng Guiao
PBA Images

MANILA,Philippines — NLEX’ 126-113 win over TNT at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last Friday was inspired by a wheelchair-bound fan who has been coach Yeng Guiao’s loyal follower for nearly 20 years. It was the KaTropa’s first loss after seven wins in the PBA Governors Cup and Orlando Porio predicted the Road Warriors’ victory when he met Guiao before the game.

Porio, 31, was afflicted with polio as a boy and is strapped to a wheelchair. The third of six children, he never went to school and is cared for by an aunt in Kasiyahan, Barangay Holy Spirit in Commonwealth, Quezon City. Watching the PBA on TV is his favorite pastime and Guiao, his favorite coach from his Red Bull days up to now.

It was PBA commissioner Willie Marcial who spotted Porio in a battered wheelchair during an impromptu stop at a street half-court on a narrow road in Kasiyahan last week. Marcial led a PBA group in an outreach program called “Homecourt” where players make an unannounced visit to a barangay court. He was accompanied by PBA players Arwind Santos of San Miguel Beer and Raul Soyud of NLEX and Paolo Felizarte, the costumed Spiderman who stormed onto the court during Game 5 of this year’s Philippine Cup Finals between the Beermen and Magnolia. Felizarte was jailed briefly for his act of public scandal and later released. He said he meant no harm with his intrusion and promised to atone for it by joining the PBA in its social outreach activities.

The PBA group went to Barangay Pasong Tamo and Winnie Castelo Welfare Complex then was on the way back to the office when Marcial saw streetballers playing 3-on-3 and decided to drop by. Watching on the side of the street was Porio in his wheelchair and he caught Marcial’s eye.

“We weren’t scheduled to make a stop in Kasiyahan,” said Marcial. “But when I saw the streetballers, I thought why not check it out. Then, I saw Lando. I spoke with him and he told me he’s a big coach Yeng fan. Right there and then, I invited him to watch NLEX’s next game. In nearly 20 years as a PBA fan, Lando never watched a game live. I also promised to give him a new wheelchair.”

Marcial welcomed Porio and two companions to the Big Dome for the Road Warriors’ contest against TNT and brought him to the NLEX dugout. He was given a sackful of goodies, including a pair of autographed sneakers from Kiefer Ravena, a jacket from Guiao and shirts from the players. NLEX team manager Ronald Dulatre attended to Porio.

“Lando was a great inspiration,” said Guiao. “As I entered Araneta and met him, he predicted we would win the game. I told him we will do our best not to disappoint him. We give our best for fans like him. He gave us a boost even in the dugout. They don’t give up on life whatever the challenges. Who are we to give up? He told me he’s been a loyal follower since the Red Bull, Rain or Shine and now NLEX days. It was such a personal joy and privilege to meet him.”

With Porio cheering at the sidelines, the Road Warriors dealt TNT its first conference setback.




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