IT was no surprise that Yousef Taha was the most inspired player on the floor for Barangay Ginebra on Sunday night in a losing stand against Petron at the Big Dome.
He was, after all, not just playing for the team and its fans but for the three most important women in his life.
“I always play my hundred percent but tonight was extra special. My mom, sister and aunt are here and I wanted to give them a show,” the rookie big man said as he smiled in the three women's direction.
Ginebra lost the game, 90-105, but the 6-5 Taha walked away from the Big Dome with a smile on his face after finally getting the chance to perform for mom Bernie Lopez, sister Alia Taha, and aunt Dolly Alvarez who had planed in all the way from Dallas, Texas where the family is based.
On the eve of the trio's departure for the US, the Fil-Palestinian freshman finally got his chance when Ginebra coach Al Chua decided to bench ineffective import Herbert Hill for much of the second half.
"He played good for us,” said his Auntie Dolly.
Taha was a picture of determination the moment he stepped on the floor, scoring six points, pulling off a highlight-reel block of Petron import Renaldo Balkman's jumper, and inspiring a mini-Ginebra comeback from the depths of a 20-plus point deficit.
With its big play, Taha also blew kisses in the three women's direction.
Alia knew that if there was one man at Ginebra who wouldn't give up in the face of the formidable deficit, it would be his brother.
“It doesn’t matter how many points the opponent leads, he’s going to fight till the end,” said Alia.
Win or lose, Taha made mom Bernie proud.
“I thank God that we were able to watch him play tonight,” said his mom. “I’m his number one fan and I am extremely proud of him.”