FIL-AM guard Gabe Norwood admitted he was torn apart between playing for Rain or Shine in Game One of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup and attending the state dinner tendered by President Aquino for visiting US President Barack Obama on Monday night at Malacanang.
The 6-foot-6, dead-ringer of the world’s most powerful man said skipping the best-of-five series opener by the Elasto Painters against Talk `N Text was a difficult decision to do as it fell on the same day and time of Obama’s state dinner at the Palace.
“I was up in the air at that time if I’m gonna go (to the state dinner) or not because everybody knows me and my commitment to the team,” the 29-year-old Norwood told Spin.ph on Tuesday.
But Rain or Shine management and coach Yeng Guiao gave him the green light shortly upon learning he was one among the few chosen Fil-Ams to be invited in the VIP dinner, prompting him to go to Malacanang on short notice.
Norwood admitted being excited at finally seeing the US President from close range.
“It was really an honor to be invited (in the state dinner). I was kinda overwhelmed, mingling with people from the (US) embassy, business people, and other elite people,” Norwood said.
The Rain or Shine defense specialist said the Monday meeting wasn’t the first time he saw Obama in person, considering the US president, a mean basketball player himself, previously spoke before his alma mater George Mason University back when he was still a senator.
“But I was a little bit closer (on Monday’s state dinner),” he said with a smile.
Although he wasn’t able to get a photo opportunity with Obama given the tight security in Malacanang, Norwood shared how he intends to keep his name tag and formal invitation for souvenirs.
“I kept the name tag, the invitation, man, the experience was just unbelievable. It was just great!” said a beaming Norwood.