AS the championship series between TNT and San Miguel gets more intense, fans rooting for both sides are keeping things light.
SMB is one win away from the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title after taking Game 5 of the best-of-seven series, but people are more interested in the racism issue involving Arwind Santos and KaTropa import Terrence Jones the last 36-plus hours.
Santos posted an apology video just a day after directing monkey gestures at Jones and justifying his actions post-game. On Thursday, the PBA slapped a P200,000 fine and 100 hours of community service, while also requiring him to attend seminar and counseling on equality and racial discrimination.
Heading into Game 6, supporters trooping to the Big Dome are hopeful that teams can stay focused on their ultimate goal. But as far as both the TNT and SMB faithful are concerned, what happens on the bleachers, stays on the bleachers.
“Cheer lang, mga fans nila magkakaibigan kami niyan,” said Beermen fan Ronnel Quiminales. “Asaran lang sa game pero pag labas ng venue picture picture na kami. Sport lang kami, wala kaming batuhan ng barya.”
KaTropa supporter Mark Christian Elias added, “’Yung kantyawan, part of the game na ‘yun. Pero after that, okay na. Normal naman siya, kahit sa college basketball may kantyawan eh.”
Eager to lift up their idols’ morale during games, these ever-loyal fans go out of their way in show admiration for SMB and TNT every single game. Don't let their bosses know that some of them even skip work to get to the venue early, prepare props, and practice cheers.
“Ako sa sobrang fan ko ng TNT, lalo na kapag ganitong finals, i-a-undertime ko talaga sa office ‘yun,” said Elias, who works as a finance analyst at GMA Network.
Quiminales shared, “May iba sa amin nag-a-absent, pero bawi-bawi na lang kapag walang games.”
These diehards have spent a lot of time, effort, and their hard-earned money for their beloved squads—and they don't mind at all. In fact, SMB and TNT fans have new sets of red and yellow balloons, respectively, every game. Posters, bobble heads, banners, and tarpaulins are mostly reusable.
“Masarap maging fan ng San Miguel kasi ‘yung mga players nila mababait at kaming mga fans maganda ang samahan namin,” said Quiminales, who’s been a fan since 2002. “Okay lang pong (gumastos) kasi nagiging masaya naman kami kesa doon pa mapunta sa bisyo, eh ‘di sa magandang bagay na lang. Hindi kami nanghihinayang.”
For his part, Elias looks forward to the KaTropa forcing a decider, and hopefully, ending their four-year title drought: “Masaya. Sobrang saya maging fan ng TNT and ngayon na may opportunity kami na mabalik ‘yung 2015 championship.”
In the 10 years of being a TNT fan, Elias never wavered—even with his favorite 1-2 punch having gone separate ways.
“Si Jayson [Castro] at saka si [Jimmy] Alapag ang mga idol ko. Pero kahit magkahiwalay na sila, sa TNT pa rin ako,” he said.