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SECOND OVERTIME

By Homer D. Sayson


My NBA Travels - Pit Stop Brooklyn

PhilBoxing.com
Sat, 17 May 2014



BROOKLYN -- After about an 1 hour and 37 minutes airborne, New York city was finally beneath my feet, and JetBlue flight 106 was slowly making its descent toward JFK international airport.

Waiting for me on Terminal 5 was fellow PhilBoxing.com writer and NBA Philippines columnist Rodene Cortes. In a New York minute, he whisked me in his BMW and into the welcoming arms of the greatest city of in the world.

Rodene and I covered the NBA Finals last June and it was nice to rediscover that friendship and camaraderie. But my visit is part pleasure and all business. I came here to cover Game 4 of the East semis between the Miami Heat and the now vanquished Brooklyn Nets.

Before doing anything else, I allowed lunch to intervene. A double serving of garlic rice and a bucket of golden brown perfected chicken joy was deliciously tempting, but Rodene had a more hearty alternative.

We went to Tito Rads at Queens Boulevard in Woodside, New York. We were joined there by the impossibly beautiful Shayne Lourdes Tolentino, an Ormoc City native, and arguably, the sexiest physical therapist in Brooklyn. Shayne is the rock of Rodene's Gibraltar.

Rodene ordered enough food to feed Ethiopia --- tuna belly, tuna jaw or pangga, pancit bihon, and fish tinola. I ate as though it was my last day on this green Earth.

After a power nap at Rodene's swanky digs, I arrived at Barclays Center at around 5:15 pm. I collected my media pass at the Atlantic Avenue entrance, proceeded to the media room, ruffled through to some pregame stats, before surveying the grandeur of the massive arena.

Opened in September 2012, Barclays was built at a cost of a cool $1 billion. It is a spectacle of glass and steel, but unlike the Chicago Bulls' home, the United Center which has a capacity of over 22,000, Barclays can only hold over 17,000.

Barclays is located in the heart of a booming metropolis of 2.6 million inhabitants. It is surrounded by stores and restaurants and dotted around with apartment buildings in the wealthy section of town. A subway, which connects Brooklyn to New York's four other boroughs, lurked beneath the busy streets.

I met another NBA.com Philippines writer in the arena, Julius Romero, who came with his son John. The father and son duo paid $1400 for two tickets near the Miami Heat bench.

The action tipped off at 8 pm local time. It was billed as Game 4, but it was actually just a clever disguise for The LeBron James Show.

A generational athlete with 4 MVP trophies, 2 championship rings and 10 All-Star selections, The King dazzled his way to 49 points for a 102-96 Heat victory. The Nets were eventually eliminated in Game 5, 96-94, two nights later at the American Airlines Arena in Miami.

The Nets, who have the fattest payroll in the NBA at $101 million, put up a gallant fight but when the chips were on the table with a minute to go, they couldn't find the ocean from the shore, which was a sharp contrast to the poise and iron will of the two-time defending champions Heat.

Rodene and Shayne took me to a Korean food hub called Boka at 9 St Marks Place. The post game meal turned into a feast. I was the only guy there over 40 and I played the part, eating chicken wings like a pro and chugging Sapporo beer like a fish.

After a quick sojourn to Times Square and another power nap, I was off to the airport for my return flight to Chicago.

All told, I was in New York for only 22 hours. But, somehow, I managed to have the time of my life.


The author at Barclays Center.


Top photo: Dinner with fellow PhilBoxing writer Rodene Cortes.



Click here for a complete listing of columns by this author.

Click here for a complete listing of this author's articles from different news sources.

 



 
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