Vince Hizon, left, is with the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs and supporters celebrating their 2004 USBL championship.
They’re once valleydawgs Alvarez, Hizon’s USBL stint remembered
Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star) - June 29, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Sixteen years ago, Bong Alvarez and Vince Hizon had experienced the journey Thirdy Ravena is about to take bringing professional basketball act abroad.

“He’s young and single, he’ll enjoy it,” said Alvarez, who together with Hizon, brought their stuff to the Pennsylvania ValleyDawgs in the United States Basketball League (USBL) in 2004.

Alvarez said theirs were probably tougher, with the constant travelling across the United States and the high level of play against American players. For him, it’s even a lot tougher with him being away from his family.

“I was alone while Vince brought along Patricia. They’re newlyweds then. It’s almost half the season when my family flew in for a few months visit,” said Alvarez.

“It can be easy physically for Thirdy, especially as he’s young. Emotionally, baka mahirap kung wala siyang suporta doon,” said Patricia of Ravena’s coming basketball odyssey with the San-en Neophoenix team in Japanese B.League.

“We’re wishing him well. Thirdy is Vince’s godson,” Patricia added.

Recommended by then US-based Filipino player agent and ValleyDawgs general manager Sam Unera, Alvarez and Hizon hooked up with the Darryl Dawkins-mentored team that ruled the 2004 USBL tourney. Their team then was based in Lehigh Valley with Liberty High’s Memorial Gymnasium as homecourt.

“Palakasan ng katawan doon dahil sa byahe ng byahe, tapos laro. Madalas sa airport ang tulog,” said Alvarez.

“Physically, hirap sila Vince because coach Darryl was very strict. May mga pinagagawa na halos masuka na sila sa hirap,” said Patricia of the training Vince got from their coach famously nicknamed Chocolate Thunder during his years in the NBA.

Alvarez said his USBL stint helped him get back in top shape which became his ticket for one final return to the PBA at 36 years of age.

“Pagbalik ko ang ganda ng kondisyon ko, pinapirma ako ni coach Yeng (Guiao) sa Red Bull,” said Alvarez.

“Tingin ko naman lamang si Thirdy sa Japan dahil mas mataas naman ang kalibre ng laro ng mga Filipino against Japanese,” Alvarez also said. “Angat siya don; rerespetuhin siya. Konting adjustment lang, at tingin ko hindi naman siya maloloko don, dahil maraming Pinoy don.”

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