Sydney. January 20, 2012.
Held at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, the Filipino Basketball Extravaganza raised over $1,000 for the benefit of the Typhoon Sendong victims. It was the curtain raiser to the main event which was the Sydney Kings versus league leader Perth Wildcats.
The two HOOPDREAMZ basketball selections featured some of the best up-and-coming Filipino-Australian basketball players across Sydney. The Red Team was captained by Paolo Policarpio while the Blue Team was led by Anthony Montano. The two teams went head to head early with an array of dazzling dunks, three-point shooting and fancy shots at break-neck speed.
Sydney Kings players Graeme Dann, Julian Khazzouh, Ben Madgen and Aaron Bruce sat in one of the VIP boxes and watched the Filipino game with delight. Kings shooting guard Madgen said, “You Filipinos are fast”, while Kings General Manager David Wolf said that it was a “surprisingly good pre-game with some promising youngsters who played very well.”
The pre-game was followed by a three-point shooting contest between four Filipino players, including captains Montano and Policarpio, Sean-Conrad Venal and Tom Cruz. Policarpio hit 9 of 20 shots to claim the shooting title. Kookies N Kream, a finalist at the recently-held World Supremacy Battlegrounds hip hop dance championship, performed a dynamic dance routine.
Philippine Consul General Anne Louise was called upon to do the opening toss in the main game. The vibrant audience swelled to 7,500 strong as the Sydney Kings and Perth Wildcats took centre court. In front of the largest NBL crowd of the season, Sydney failed to hit two free throws with less than a second to go as Perth Wildcats survived a nail-biting finale to record a 76-75 iiNet NBL Championship win.
This writer was very pleased with the outcome. “The intention was to showcase aspiring Filipino-Australian athletes, but after learning about the tragedy in Mindanao, we decided to use it as a fundraising vehicle for the Philippines. Every player on the court wore a black wristband in memory of the typhoon victims. Celebrities spotted at the game include former NSW Premier Kristina Keneally, TV host David Koch and Philippine Consul General Anne Louise.