IT’S Easter Wednesday.
After a 10-day Holy Week break, the boys (and girls) are back in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines (UAAP) Press Room to resume the beat of their lives.
Their everyday rhythm syncs perfectly with the thump-thump-thump and clobber of the volleyball as it hits the padded floors of the FilOil Eco Oil Centre. Sports is what makes these sportswriters’ hearts beat fast.
The UAAP volleyball season is nearly two-thirds done. It and the larger league’s season both end in May. Today is just another lamp post to pass and mark on the remaining calendar.
But the return to work is a bit harsh, coming as it does right after the Easter holiday. Minds and bodies still remember the sun and sand and the lapping waves. Or the pious activities done in churches and Lenten processions.
But back to business it really is. And the regulars snap back to work like the young professionals that they are. Rappler’s JR Isaga, Philstar.com’s Lui Morales, Inquirer.net’s Lance Agcaoili, Daily Tribune’s Mark Escarlote, abs-cbn news’ Cedrick Basco, One Sports’s Rainier Mira, Philippine Daily Inquirer’s June Navarro, Tiebreaker Times’s Justin Valencia and Nicks Hernandez and the collegiate league’s longtime chronicler, Theodore (TJ) Jurado, dutifully concentrate on their laptops, coaxing their trusty tools to churn out stories.
The games start mercilessly early at 9 a.m. But the sporty bunch is there much earlier. Game coverages can go on just as mercilessly till 9, or sometimes 10 p.m., depending on the number of sets it takes volleyball teams to win. The best job in the world (sportswriters get paid for watching games that they love) can sometimes bite. But it’s all part of the game.
In between keeping tabs of the on-court action, the sports journos track down the accumulating stats and scores. They concoct scenarios in their minds based on who wins or loses, getting ahead of what’s happening on court and projecting match-up possibilities.
Part of their thought process includes predicting ultimate winners and losers. A large part of their job is based on analyzing the key players and factors that contribute to the resulting performances and outcomes. They formulate questions—both tough and easy—to ask athletes and coaches in the post-game interviews. They do wordsmithing using sports jargon, a special talent indeed.
But it’s not all keeping their noses to the grindstone. In between games there are light moments and time to chill. This particular day they follow the action in the National Basketball Association’s (NBA) play-in tournament.
The Play-In Tournament, introduced in 2020-21 season, is an interesting teaser to the NBA Playoffs. Seeds Nos. 7 to 10 in the Eastern and Western conferences play a mini-tournament over four days to determine which two teams will be the seventh and eighth seeds in their conference’s playoff bracket.
The boys and girls follow the ebb and flow of the scores in the Los Angeles Lakers-Minnesotta Timberwolves play-in battle. As is to be expected, most if not all in the bunch are Lakers fans. This side attraction adds life and variety to their waiting game. The press room comes alive with shrieks and “endearing invectives.
But wait. Today, something unexpected happens. The previously winless University of the Philippines Men’s Volleyball Team (UPMVT) upsets the more “winful” Ateneo men’s team. The sports group springs to action in the post-game press conference to milk this story for its novelty.
And the beat goes on. The UP-Ateneo women’s game that follows is as expected. Ateneo beats UP in three sets.
The big event they are waiting for, however, is the game between the defending champions National University Lady Bulldogs and the streaking Adamson University Lady Falcons. The Bulldogs mauled the Falcons in the first round. But the soaring birds, now lifted up by powerful wings, are hoping to send the Bulldogs home with their (stubby) tail between their legs.
The MVTs of these same schools take on the last time slot of the volleyball game day after the WVTs finish. Whether the happy, hardworking bunch of sports scribes get home decently early or stay behind and go home late like kids in detention class will all depend on how tough and hard-fought the ladies’ game will be.
But early or not, easy or not, this band of bards is ready to roll with the odds whatever they may be. Their ultimate goal is to give you gold. A riveting, captivating sports story.