RIZZA Diaz has been doing great the past few years, overcoming huge challenges in the big world of sports.
It wasn’t always smooth sailing for the lovely sports reporter because in the world of basketball, apparently even those on the sidelines are faced with challenge of making the grade — height-wise.
“Kasi ako I received a lot of nos, nos that would say I have to grow taller and I can’t, so parang sa akin noon paano ko kaya sosolusyunan ‘yun?” Diaz revealed to Spin.ph.
“What I did, I was just persistent about it, I gave the best that I could, UAAP, D-League, and then that caught their attention,” said Diaz, who actually stands five feet but gets dwarfed when working games featuring giants.
“There’s this quotation, ‘You just have to be always good so it’s hard for them not to notice you,’” she added.
Diaz has obviously proven height doesn’t matter: she is now on her third year in the big league, and continues to scale new heights.
She considers each game she works as a blessing.
“Every game is a gift to me. And sana maging regalo rin ako sa kanila and be an inspiration to many.
“I’m the smallest girl in this venue always pero with the help of everyone I’ve stood taller,” said the former UAAP courtside reporter for National University.
“Dream come true to na mag-courtside reporter ako for the PBA,” said Diaz, who just turned 25.
“And up to this day hindi ako makapaniwala na andito na ako especially when I’m covering the likes of Tim Cone, kasama mo si coach Ronnie Magsanoc, makakausap mo si Alvin Patrimonio, I had posters of these guys in my room tapos ngayon kasama mo na sila,” added the bubbly reporter.
“You’re broadcasting with Quinito Henson, ’yung ina-idol ng lahat nakakasalamuha mo lang ’di ba? So I think that’s the perfect Christmas gift, birthday gift I have ever received,” she continued.
Diaz has been a sports fan since she was a kid, but noted that didn’t give her a huge advantage when starting on television.
“I’ve always been a fan,” she said. “Isa lang ang TV namin sa bahay growing up, so kapag gabi na kay Papa ‘yung TV sumasama ako kapag nanonood siya ng basketball sa gabi. ‘Yun, doon ako natuto tapos sinundan ko na ‘yung liga (PBA).”
“Tapos I got interested in college leagues and then it came as a surprise na naimbitahan ako to audition for UAAP,” she added.
Diaz tried auditioning as courtside reporter when she was still in high school but got turned down, saying she “didn’t look good” then.
It was the late veteran sportcaster Butch Maniego who saw the potential in the petite Diaz, when she was interviewed during a Philippine Basketball League game at her school Emilio Aguinaldo College.
“I was part of the student council and they have a halftime interview with me and courtside reporter Lia Cruz ako ’yung ini-interview to invite the alumni then after noon sabi ni Butch Maniego, ‘This girl looks good,’ not looks good pala, ‘sounded good,’” she recalled.
“Then he told me, ‘Why don’t you audition?’ sabi ko, sige I’ll give it a try but deep inside that’s it, pero hindi ko muna sinabi ‘yun,” she added.
“And then when I went to that audition I didn’t get very good feedback, I didn’t look good then,” she said.
“But then siguro napansin nila na marami akong alam, alam ko ‘yung sinasabi ko, and then after a month I got a call back and I started from there, tapos ito na.”
“I didn’t look good, mukha akong nilalagnat lagi,” she said laughing.
“Alam mo ‘yun, I thought for a while okay na ‘yung magaling ka, I’m not saying magaling ako, pero okay na ‘yung marunong ka, hindi pala.”
The basketball reporter has since broadened her horizons, hosting various sports events and making the list as one of FHM Philippines’ sexiest women.
“You’re on TV, there’s a certain look that’s part of the adjustment and because I love what I do, kailangan mong maki ano kailangan mong makibagay, kailangan mong sabayan ‘yung demand sa’yo and it make me feel good also, dati hindi ako nabibilang sa mga ano, FHM ngayon may mga comments nang maganda,” she continued.
Now a veteran, Diaz said she tries to help newcomers, encouraging them to always give their best.
“UAAP Season 70 ako nakapasok nakakaloka tapos Season 78 na ngayon, ganon talaga katagal ang proseso,” she said.
“Kaya sinasabi ko nga sa mga bata, tulad ni Apple David bago lang siya sa PBA, sabi ko nakakainggit kayo in a way kasi ang bilis ng proseso niyo pero swerte kaya dapat pangalagaan niyo rin.”
Now aside from being a better reporter, Diaz has plans to give back to the indusrty.
“I was just given a game to prove myself and maganda naman ang kilabasan,” she said.
“It was always a dream, I don’t know if there is anything more than this but I’m hoping there is, I’m looking into being more than a reporter and maybe help Philippine sports in one way or another,” she said.