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Sports

Meeting US VP’s husband

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

The invitation to PBA commissioner Willie Marcial came from the US Embassy. Marcial was asked to assemble a small group of PBA players to meet with US Vice President Kamala Harris’ husband Douglas Emhoff at the Kerry Sports basketball court in Shangri-La at the Fort, BGC. Quietly, Marcial and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas assembled Barangay Ginebra assistant coach Olsen Racela, NLEX’ Asi Taulava, Terrafirma’s Joshua Munzon, Meralco’s Chris Newsome and Ginebra’s Jared Dillinger for the meeting that took place at 11 a.m. last Wednesday.

Racela was excused from Ginebra practice to attend the gathering that was held since the Second Gentleman was in town for President Bongbong Marcos’ inauguration and as part of the celebration of the 75th anniversary of US-Philippine diplomatic relations. Ginebra’s Tim Cone left for the US to join the Miami Heat coaching staff on a two-week stint in the NBA Summer League the night before so interim head coach Richard del Rosario conducted practice without Racela. Dillinger was also excused. He hasn’t played since the previous Philippine Cup but is expected to be back on the court before the ongoing conference’s eliminations end. “JD’s ready to go but we won’t rush it so maybe after two more games, he’ll be ready,” said Racela.

Taulava, 49, is on NLEX’ inactive list. “I’ll do whatever management asks me to do,” he said. “I’m just blessed to be with our organization.” Munzon and Newsome were also excused from practice. Everyone in the PBA delegation underwent an antigen test before cleared to stand in line with US Embassy staff and a group of US Embassy basketball players representing a team in the inter-department tournament to meet Emhoff who is the first Second Gentleman in US history.

Emhoff, 57, earned a Bachelor of Arts degree at California State Northridge and a Juris Doctor degree at the University of Southern California. He joined the Georgetown University Law Center faculty as a distinguished visitor and fellow of the school’s Institute for Technology Law and Policy in 2020. Last year, Emhoff attended the opening ceremony of the Summer Paralympics in Tokyo.

Emhoff made the round of shaking hands and conversing with the PBA delegation. “We talked about California since I went to Cal State Los Angeles and Mr. Emhoff went to Cal State Northridge,” said Munzon. Taulava said they joked about being young to play basketball. When Racela introduced himself as an assistant coach, Emhoff said he couldn’t be recruited because of his age. Emhoff called Marcial “the boss” but when he was introduced to Vargas, he said the chairman was “the real boss.” He asked me what my role was and I said I’m a TV sports broadcaster and writer. Emhoff said it must be a thrill to cover sports and the lives of athletes. After Emhoff finished the round of meeting those in line, he went back to the PBA players to talk hoops. He said he’s a Lakers fan but the Vice President is a Golden State Warriors fan.

Someone said Emhoff would engage some PBA players in a free throw shooting contest where each would be given 7.5 seconds to knock down foul shots and the winner would be the shooter with the most connections. The time of 7.5 seconds was in relation to the 75th anniversary. But the plan was scratched in the end as Emhoff could stay only a few minutes. However, he took two mid-range shots in his business suit and sank one. Emhoff graciously posed for a series of group photos then said goodbye. The PBA delegation was honored to participate in the meeting with the Second Gentleman. For Racela and the PBA players, it was worth missing practice.

KAMALA HARRIS

PBA

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