Cebu’s basketball personalities’ reaction to Kobe Bryant’s tragic death
Cebu City, Philippines—Cebu’s basketball community was devastated with the news of the tragic death of basketball superstar Kobe Bryant.
Bryant, considered among the greatest basketball players of all time and a five-time NBA champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, died in a helicopter crash in Southern California on Sunday, January 26, 2020, (Monday dawn, January 27, 2020, Philippine time).
The news shocked the entire basketball community, including here in the Queen City of the South, where basketball is among the favorite sporting events and Kobe among the top players being idolized alongside LeBron James and Michael Jordan.
“It is shocking news indeed for the sports community, especially the basketball community,” said the legendary Ramon Fernandez, the four-time PBA Most Valuable Player who is now a commissioner in the Philippine Sports Commission.
“It is very tragic, he was so young, just 41,” added Fernandez. “This incident will allow us to think about life, like Kobe, he did not just get so rich but he made a difference. That is what is important. Making a difference.”
Cebuano hotshot Dondon Hontiveros paid tribute to Kobe on his Facebook account by sharing a photo of the NBA legend posting up against him in an exhibition game in Manila in July 2011.
“I was shocked, dili ko mutuo pirmero. It’s just a sad day,” said Hontiveros, the former PBA player who is now a Cebu City councilor.
Hontiveros admitted he is a huge fan of Bryant.
“If someone saw me play, they would probably say Kobe’s my idol,” Hontiveros said.
“His moves were so graceful that you have to copy or make it your style. But it’s his work ethic, his drive that sets him apart,” the former Alaska player said.
“I’ve heard stories on how he workouts even on game days. In a way, I did extra workouts too that helped me stay in shape even at 40 years old. He played 20 years with the Lakers, I played 20 years professionally. That’s the impact he has on me.”
Avid fans of Kobe, like former University of Cebu (UC) assistant coach Rocky Alcoseba, were hit the hardest.
“It’s just a sad day for all basketball fans,” said Alcoseba, son of noted coach Raul “Yayoy” Alcoseba. “I cried when I heard the news at around 5 a.m. when I woke up. Everyone who know me knows I love Kobe.”
Like most basketball personalities in this generation, Kobe was someone Alcoseba looked up to.
“He was my idol, my hero growing up. Even now. I was looking forward for his hall of fame enshrinement when he gives that speech,” Alcoseba added.
Former University of San Jose-Recoletos (USJ-R) slam dunk king Miguel Gastador was also one of the legions of Kobe fans in Cebu City.
“I feel so sad and speechless,” the reigning Cebu Schools Athletics Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) men’s slam dunk king said.
“Kobe Bryant is one of the reasons why I played basketball,” said the 23-year-old Gastador, who was recently picked by Marinerong Pilipino in the 2020 PBA D-League Draft last week.
Kobe’s talent electrified many basketball fans that even those who hated him before admit they did so because of his remarkable capabilities on the hardcourt.
Former UC point guard and fellow PBA D-League draftee Darrell Shane of Talisay Cebu said he remembered the time when Kobe tried to carry the Lakers in the 2008 NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics.
Being a Boston fan, Menina admitted that Kobe was a big thorn for him.
“Siya akong pinaka hate sa NBA finals sa 2008 versus the Celtics kay grabe ka maayo mo dowa,” Menina told CDN Digital.
(He was the player I hated most in the 2008 NBA Finals because he played so well.)
Bryant had won three titles then. Although the Lakers lost the title to Boston that year, he went on to win it the year after against the Orlando Magic. He ended up winning five overall, one short of Jordan’s six.
The 22-year-old Menina said that he learned a lot from Kobe’s game.
“Grabe and iyang influence nako sa iyang shooting og sa footwork. Diha ko nag tanaw sa shooting niya og sa mga moves kung mo drive siya,” Menina said.
(He has a great influence in my game especially with his shooting and footwork. His shooting and his moves when he drives to the basket is what I look at.)
Another player who shared his thoughts was University of the Visayas’ (UV) rising star Gabriel Cometa.
“So very very sad that this happened to him and his daughter. Nobody expected this and all we can do is pray for their souls. R.I.P KOBE (MAMBA MENTALITY),” Cometa said via Facebook Messenger.
Sheldon Gahi, a former teammate of Cometa at UV who is now in Canada, also said he was shocked with the news.
“I really couldn’t believe it. A lot are crying with this news,” Gahi said.
“To be honest, he’s one of my idols. I admire his game even if I don’t play the same position as he does.” /bmjo
Subscribe to our regional newsletter
Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of Cebudailynews. We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.