HE might have missed his final playing year in the collegiate stage, but Kyles Lao surely knows the best way to exhibit his support and spirit for the UP Fighting Maroons.
The NLEX Road Warrior rookie shows off his loyalty in the big league by sporting a UP-NLEX custom Nike Zoom Freak1 by Canada-based Filipino sneaker artist, theBROcustom.
“The design represents who I was and who I am today,” shared Kyles. “I love the fact that it shows all the things that I want to express whether it’s pride, gratitude, etc. People say art expresses things that people cannot say, and I think the artist did just that for me.”
The 24-year-old guard assured that it’s not just for the looks as he never forgets to convey the attitude UP taught him in college while playing in the PBA.
”I channel my UP spirit in the PBA through my attitude. UP has instilled in me the mindset of not giving up even if the odds aren’t on your side. It’s core values really shaped how I play and how I see the game in the pros. UP taught me the meaning of the phrase ‘Utak at Puso,’” he said.
The man behind the design, Maui Lucero, is a witness to Kyles’ journey — from college ball to professional league.
“The main concept of the custom [job] is to show how passionate Kyles [has been] playing ever since he was in UP. He is very hardworking and he always gives his best to the team. I can recall when he managed to get back from ACL injury and won the Rookie of the Year in Season 76,” Maui said, as he explains the UP fist graphic painted on the tongue of the shoe. “Meanwhile, the NLEX colorway shows how he loves the PBA and how he’s having fun with his team.”
Even up to now, Kyles often visits Maroon practices and watches their games, which is why he can barely contain his excitement now that the Fighting Maroons have once again entered the final four as the second seed.
“I saw how they practiced in the summer and how they prepared for this season. I feel like last year they made a statement, and this year, they affirmed that statement [by] ending the eliminations at number two. I’m really proud how they got over all the humps and how they shut all the distractions, bashers, [and] issues. UP [has come] a long way since I’ve been there, and I’m proud to see them this way,” he added.
“It’s a great process from being at the cellar before and now being one of the title contenders. I’m just happy to be part of that process, and I’m just ready to see them win that crown once again for UP.”