HER family name alone is dead giveaway that she comes from a basketball-loving clan.
Just like her two celebrated cousins, Denise Patricia Tiu has also gotten herself to play and excel in the sport that has been good to them as she suits up for the national team for the very first time in the coming Fiba-Asia Championship for Women slated in Bangkok, Thailand starting next week.
Tiu, of course, is the lovely cousin of basketball star Chris and rising young coach Charles who she admitted had been a big influence on her taking up the game.
“I began to play basketball when I was 10 during the time when we will have Sunday games among family members including Chris and Charles,” recalled the national team rookie.
Ish to close friends and family members, it’s no surprise she also ended up playing for Ateneo in college just like Chris and Charles, where she was eventually handled for two years by veteran mentor Haydee Ong - the current coach of the Perlas ng Pilipinas team.
Ong was actually coach of Ish from as far back as high school at the Immaculate Concepcion Academy, where current teammate and Perlas ng Pilipinas co-captain Joan Grajales served as deputy mentor.
“I just feel excited, happy, and blessed to be part of the national team. And of course proud that I’m playing for coach Haydee, and with my mom as our team manager, “ said Ish, referring to her mother Cynthia Tiu, whose Discovery Suites had been serving as the team’s chief backer since 2010.
Chris and Charles also give moral support to their cousin by frequently asking about her and the team’s preparation for the biggest international tournament they will be joining in the past two years.
“They always ask naman on how the team is doing and about our preparation for the tournament. Both of them are well aware about our coming campaign in the Fiba-Asia,” said the 23-year-old forward and psychology graduate.
And in as much as she wants both brothers to watch Perlas ng Pilipinas in the flesh during the October 27 to November 3 meet, their hectic schedule would not allow them to do so.
“I understand naman kasi they’re busy now, Chris with the PBA and other commitments, and the fact that he had just gotten married. Charles of course, with his coaching duties too, (in the PBA),” added Ish, who’s also into tennis and wakeboarding.
The former Ateneo stalwart knows the tough task ahead for Perlas ng Pilipinas, which is seeking promotion to Level I of the Fiba-Asia by 2015.
Currently, the Philippines is in Level II along with Southeast Asian neighbors Thailand, Malaysia, and Indonesia, together with Uzbekistan and Hong Kong. The Filipinas need to finish in the top two of the group to play the last two teams in Level I for outright promotion.
Likewise, the team is using the Fiba-Asia campaign to validate its inclusion in the Philippine delegation to the 27th Southeast Asian Games in Myanmar this December.
But Ish stressed that like its men’s (Gilas Pilipinas) and boys’ predecessors (PH U16), Perlas ng Pilipinas is out to prove that it can rise above the challenge.
“Iba `yung laro ng men’s, mapapa-wow ka dahil mabilis silang gumalaw, pero sa women’s makikita mo `yung passion,” she said.
“Maaaring hindi namin kayang mag-dunk or gumawa ng magandang moves, pero makikita mo `yung puso.”