TAIPEI - She woke up before the break of dawn, took a two-hour train ride and was at the Xinzhuang Stadium before eight in the morning - a good nine hours before Gilas Pilipinas plays a US selection in the 37th Jones Cup.
Problem was, there were no more tickets available at the venue.
"Wala na raw po talaga," said Filipina overseas worker Sugar Damolo, who has been based in this nation for the past two years working in a factory making microchips based in the provincial city of Hsichu.
She was downcast while holding a huge Gilas placard outside the venue when she summoned enough guts to approach a group of Filipino sportswriters who were there to cover Gilas' morning shootaround and practice.
Tickets were still hard to find but Damolo got the next best thing.
Escorted inside to get a glimpse of his favorite players in practice, Damolo sat wide-eyed at ringside while Gilas ran through their plays and polished their shooting ahead of the game against the Americans.
"Bata pa ako, basketball fan na ako," said a thrilled Damolo, adding her love for basketball was rekindled when she saw exploits of Terrence Romeo and Gilas posted on Twitter and Instagram.
When practice was over, there were more surprises waiting for her.
The entires Gilas team didn't need a lot of prodding from Star senior reporter Nelson Beltran as they gladly posed for a group picture at mid-court, with a blushing Damolo standing right in the middle.
With Beltran's help, she also got to pose for selfies with favorite players like Romeo, Marc Pingris, and Ranidel de Ocampo and was still on cloud nine as she walked past the back entrance of the stadium.
"Unexplainable," she gushed.