KRISTINE Cayabyab was the luckiest among all the people inside the Mall of Asia Arena on Thursday night.
Not only was the 12-year-old Dagupan native able to play against LeBron James in an exhibition game along with other Nike Rise players, she also received a signed basketball from the Cleveland Cavaliers star.
James, on the second day of his four-day tour, apparently became fond of the Filipina baller he also signed Cayabyab’s size 11 right shoe after the game.
“Masaya po. Idol na idol ko po talaga si LeBron,” said Cayabyab, who is called ‘Tintin’ by friends.
The souvenirs were icing on the cake on a wonderful night for Cayabyab, who also won the three-point shootout against Thirdy Ravena, RR Garcia, and national women’s player Ewon Arayi during halftime of the exhibition game highlighting James' second visit in Manila.
Cayabyab's Black team also won over the White squad, 100-86, in a game that saw Cayabyab also get an opportunity to be guarded by the NBA's biggest star.
“Sabi niya po hindi niya daw po ako papatirahin,” said Cayabyab.
No wonder Cayabyab said she will forever cherish the experience.
“Malaking experience po ‘to. Dati po, nanonood lang ako sa MOA Arena tapos ngayon nakalaro ako,” said Cayabyab, adding the Nike Rise experience - which included training under former Gilas coach Chot Reyes - will spur her to reach for her dream.
“Bata pa lang po ako marami na akong natutunan. Malaking bagay po na makapasok sa Nike Rise,” Cayabyab said. “Gusto ko po magkaroon ng magandang attitude sa paglalaro at disiplina.”