FOR John and Khat Cantimbuhan, basketball is not just a game; it is where they found true love.
Ball is life for the Cantimbuhan couple. John, also called Puroy, is currently a player of the Imus Bandera in the MPBL, and was the first-ever MVP of the NBL for the Dasmarinas Ballers. Khat played college ball for Adamson and De La Salle-Dasmariñas. She also became part of the national youth team.
Not surprisingly, their love story began in a basketball game when Khat, then-playing for La Salle-Dasmariñas, got a photo request from a player from a different school that turned out to be her future husband.
“Nagkakilala kami sa game,” said Khat. “After ng game namin, nilapitan niya ako.”
Khat grew up in a basketball family as she is also the younger sister of James and Allan Mangahas, who had stints with La Salle and Mapua in college, respectively, before going to the semi-pro leagues.
“Mahilig ako sa pagba-basketball gawa na rin ng mga kuya ko. Ako ‘yung bunso nung naglalaro sila sa Manila. Sinasama lagi ako ng father ko kaya nahilig ako sa pagba-basketball,” said Khat.
Khat vividly remembers her first encounter with John.
“Sa Naascu, RTU gym,” said Khat. “Lumapit siya at nagpa-picture sa akin. La Salle ako, nasa EAC [Emilio Aguinaldo College-Cavite] pa siya. After nung nagpa-picture, nag-get to know each other na kami. Doon na po nag-start. Hindi na kami naghiwalay.”
As fate would have it, the two got even closer when Puroy transferred to La Salle-Dasmariñas to continue his basketball career.
“Nag-EAC siya ng one year and then nag-transfer siya sa La Salle. Naging mag-classmate pa kami,” said Khat.
The two got married in 2016 after being part of the Patriots’ varsity team together. Puroy became one of the best players to come out of La Salle-Dasmariñas.
Puroy moved on to bigger leagues when he was part of the Dasmariñas Ballers squad that finished runner-up in the NBL’s first season against the Parañaque Aces in 2018. Shortly after that MVP stint, Puroy signed with the Imus squad in the MPBL to join PBA legend Jayjay Helterbrand in the team's backcourt.
Khat’s basketball career, meanwhile, had to take a backseat as she became a mother, but she still makes it a point to watch her husband's games. Khat said their love and knowledge of the game helps their relationship grow.
“Bonding time po namin ‘yun and mas nag-grow ‘yung relationship namin kapag minsan feeling down siya sa mga liga na nilalaruan nya. Nagpapayuhan kami ng mga weaknesses niya na nakikita while nanonood ako, then ‘yun po iko-correct niya,” said Khat.
Although she took a break from the sport, Khat is grateful to basketball for bringing her and her husband together for eight years now.
“Sobrang hindi ko mapaliwanag kasi from basketball talaga kami nagkakilala," she said. "Ngayon, basketball pa rin. Sobrang special. Parang umiikot na buhay namin sa basketball."