I LOVE YOU, THIS GAME: The logo that started a basketball revolution
"I Love You, This Game" is going to be a series celebrating the Metropolitan Basketball Association's 20th anniversary. This is entry no. 1.
Sometimes, the better things in life have the most random beginnings.
For example, Nike, then known as Blue Ribbon Sports, started importing shoes to the United States via Japan's Onitsuka Tiger. It wasn't until about a decade later when the Nike brand really got it going, and that was after the relationship with Onitsuka Tiger started to go south.
Samsung, the electronics giant, actually started as a grocery store in 1938.
The point is, some of the better things in life have the most random beginnings.
In Philippine basketball, the Metropolitan Basketball Association was one of the better things ever and on this date exactly 20 years ago, it officially opened its doors to hoops-crazed Filipino fans.
It was an opening filled with stars, politicians, future politicians, and then another set of stars however, the actual MBA origin story goes a year back.
It was also one of the most random things in the history of the sport in our country.
"It took me about a year," Ramon Tuason told ABS-CBN Sports in an exclusive one-on-one interview when asked about how the MBA came about.
"A few friends came up to me in 1996 or 1997, if I remember right, with a logo. It was the MBA logo. They said 'Ramon you're interested in basketball, what do you think of this?' and I said it's long overdue," he added.
So there you go, the origin story of the basketball league that practically started a revolution in the Philippines basically started with a logo.
Yes, a logo. The logo came first before the actual idea of a basketball league.
Granted, the idea of a league like the MBA was already planted in the mind of Tuason.
The now 62-year-old chairman and CEO of MetroBall, Inc., the MBA's mother company, was a sports guys through and through.
Around the time the logo was presented to him, he was part of a local league in Ortigas.
He grew up watching the game and when he got to the United States at the height of Martial Law, he absorbed the way how Americans do sports.
Tuason was a sports guy through and through, but, he could never stomach cheering for "noodles or canned goods."
"Because we grew up Ateneo vs. La Salle, that's all we knew right? That's the NCAA before and now it's the UAAP," Tuason narrates, with so much passion you'd think that the MBA is actually making a comeback (No, it's not.)
"We were not used to cheering for noodles or for canned goods, it was always cheering from the heart. So we decided let's try this but there was nowhere to go, the PBA would not take that sort of system.
That our dear Kapamilya, was an early parting shot to the Philippine Basketball Association and its corporate-backed teams. But more on that later.
The idea of a league like the MBA was already planted in the mind of Tuason. And when the logo came, it was just a matter of time.
THE KAPAMILYA WAY
Tuason was ready to go with the MBA but for the league to actually start, he needed some help.
Fortunately, he knew some people.
At the height of Martial Law, Tuason relocated to the United States. Another family that relocated to America were the Lopezes.
Lopezes as in the Lopezes of ABS-CBN.
And so, Tuason approached his old friends with a bright idea in mind.
"So we said maybe we could go to ABS-CBN since the Lopezes were my friends from the States, we grew up together, let me just broach the idea," the youthful Tuason said over lunch at his office during a fair-weathered day in Ortigas.
The Lopezes liked the idea.
"Because at that time, they were bidding for the PBA on Studio 23," Tuason added, referring to the time when ABS-CBN tried to work a deal with the PBA, which did not work.
"So they liked it they said 'Ramon develop the idea, we'll give you six months and come back to us.'"
The plans for the MBA were in motion, all thanks to a logo. You know, random stuff... (to be continued)
*I Love You, This Game is a series celebrating the Metropolitan Basketball Association's 20th anniversary. Stay tuned for more!
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