MANILA, JUNE 19, 2006 (STAR) THE GAME OF MY LIFE By Bill Velasco - Raising a father is probably one of the most difficult things one could ever do. At least, that’s what my sons tell me.

Seriously, though, it’s one of the toughest jobs in the world. Not only are you the provider, but you are the workhorse, packing mule and 700-pound gorilla. You are the driver, carpenter, mechanic, coach, teacher, referee, big brother and occasional maid. You don’t sleep, are often last to eat, and when things go wrong, can hardly breathe.

Sometimes, I feel like a magician, conjuring up groceries out of nothing, or a sorcerer, weaving a spell so that my boys will pay attention, and perhaps the Sandman, singing them to sleep. (Well, lately they’ve admitted that they sleep to avoid my singing.) I can be their savior (when they need their allowance) or the devil incarnate (when I don’t let them go out when they want to.) I’m either real cool (when they need to be fed), or out of date (when they dress better than I do–according to them). Whatever.

I recently heard a story of a person who spent a few days with a guru on top of a mountain in a remote village. The enlightened student visited with the family of a friend, and wouldn’t stop raving about her new mentor. The friend asked "How many children does this guru have?"

Shocked, the visitor replied "Children? He doesn’t have children! He’s very evolved, very wise."

"I see," was the response. "Well, when he has a family of his own, have him call him. Until then, he don’t know nothin’."

In Conversations with God, Neale Donald Walsh reiterates the difficulties of the family provider, called the Householder in the book. At the time, Walsh had just lost his job, and had a family to feed. He said it was extremely difficult to be deeply spiritual when your material needs were so great. How can you focus on meditating and praying when your phone bill has to be paid, there’s no food in the refrigerator, and the car needs gas.

I can relate.

God’s response in the book? "Do not abandon me just when you need me the most."

I agree.

Many are the athletes whose lives have been consciously or unconsciously molded by their fathers, either positively or negatively. Lydia de Vega, Paeng Nepomuceno, Allan Caidic, Chito and Joey Loyzaga and many others were all directly influenced by their fathers. Shaquille O’Neal, Michael Jordan, Mike Tyson, Tiger Woods and Dennis Rodman are just some of the big names who have been influenced into their professions and motivated to succeed for their fathers, or in spite of them. Now, second-generation athletes are more commonly escaping their fathers’ shadows by engaging in other sports or entirely different fields.

Perhaps the toughest part of being a Dad is knowing that you constantly have to work on yourself to become a better person and father. If not, you’ll end up doing to your children what you hated when your own father did it to you. And you can’t rest, or be weak. Everyone counts on you. Whew.

It seems we can’t be neutral about our fathers. We feel very strongly about them, one way or another. I pray that, when our children do speak of us, it is with a tone of awe, respect and admiration. It is not an easy job.

Thanks to all fathers. We don’t hear it enough.

* * *

The 2006 adidas Streetball Challenge opens in Davao on July 1, and is the longest-running basketball tournament of its kind in the Philippines.

When it was first held in 1996, the adidas Streetball Challenge spread half-courts around the Quezon Memorial monument, which served as a picturesque backdrop to the games. The rules were new, but the talent level very high. Since then, it has become a regular staple for boys‚ and girls‚ high schools and colleges to enter.

At first, there were other three-on-three tournaments. A well-known energy drink brand tried it for a few years. A famous beer brand held a one-off nationwide tournament for adults that was very successful, but never repeated. Another international sports brand also held its own version, but went in another direction after a few seasons.

Thrice, the Philippines has won the adidas Asian Streetball Championships. The University of Santo Tomas women’s team was the first to do the trick back in China in 2000. The University of the Visayas Green Lancers under Boy Cabahug and led by JR Quiñahan became the first men’s team to the summit in 2002 (also in China), and were rewarded with a trip to Orlando to meet Tracy McGrady. Last December, San Beda defeated West Negros College at the Araneta Coliseum to annex the 2005 Asian title, and flew to Portland for game between the Portland Trailblazers and Houston Rockets, and a tour of the adidas global basketball headquarters there.

Last year, adidas Philippines paid tribute to its all-time Streetball Mythical Team: Enrico Villanueva of Red Bull, Wesley Gonzales of the San Miguel Beermen, Peter June Simon of the Purefoods Chunkee Giants, BJ Manalo of Athletes in Action, and JR Quiñahan of Granny Goose Tortillos. The five are the most accomplished of the players who’ve been through the Streetball grind.

This year, the tournament runs through Davao, Metro Manila, Baguio and Cebu, before the national finals are held back in the metropolis. Instead of four age groups, there are now two: boys under 18 and girls under 18. Winners will be flown to Guangzhou, China, for the Asian finals.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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