FROM the multitude of fans who scream their names and wait for hours on end just to have a few precious seconds of interaction with them after each game, two people stand out for Alvin Patrimonio and Marc Pingris.
To them, these people have become more than just fans.
“Siya yung pinakauna kong fan,” four-time PBA MVP Patrimonio says of Eleonor Lingo, who he considers his biggest fan. “Nasa college pa lang ako sa Mapua andiyan na siya. Hanggang noong nag Philippine team ako tapos nag PBA na.”
One of the most amiable players in the pro league, Patrimonio used to sign autographs, pose for souvenir photos, and mingle with fans long after the arena lights have been turned off during his heyday – a trait displayed by the great Robert Jaworski before him.
Understandably, ‘Cap’ remains one of the most popular figures in the league to this day.
“Nakasanayan ko na kasi. Legacy ko na 'yun na hindi ako aalis hanggang hindi ko sila napagbibigyan sa pa-picture or authograph,” said Patrimonio, now the team manager of the same San Mig Coffee (formerly Purefoods) squad where he had spent his entire playing career.
Posing for a picture or signing an autograph, Cap said, is his way of giving back to fans like the now overseas-based Lingo who have showered him with love and affection all these years.
“Ito din ang chance ko to be with them, that way I can make them feel special even for a day,” said Patrimonio, one of the 25 PBA Greatest Players.
Pingris, on the other hand, considers himself lucky to have a fan like Van, who he considers no longer just a supporter but family.
“Napaka-supportive niya sa akin at sa family ko din, kay Danica (Pingris nee Sotto) at sa anak ko. Kahit sa training andiyan siya, magdadala ng food hanggang sa game may banner pa. Minsan kahit sa bahay bibisita siya may dalang food,” Pingris told Spin.ph.
“Pero more than sa mga dinadala niya, ang pinaka naa-appreciate ko is yung effort niya. Galing pa siya sa malayong lugar, mage-effort para manood ng game at training. Ang laking bagay noon para sa akin,” he added.
“Swerte ako na andiyan siya. Di ko na nga siya fan eh, kapatid ko na.”
Pingris says he tries to repay the favor in the only way he knows how – trying to win every game that he can, to bring cheer to his fans.