Whether it be on the hardcourt or virtual arenas, the fire within these established collegiate basketball stars hasn’t wavered. If anything, their pent up competitive nature only grew bigger and bigger amid the pandemic without any physical hoops action.
That’s why it’s a good thing they have found a new avenue to unleash that competitiveness.
Players like NCAA Finals MVP Fran Yu of Letran and Kyle Carlos of Emilio Aguinaldo College could not be grateful enough to be given the chance to connect, compete and rekindle lost times snatched by the pandemic through the Collegiate Center for Esports (CCE).
The pair are just two of the 10 players competing in the ongoing CCE Mobile Legends: Bang Bang 1-on-1 Exhibition Matches which streams on CALM Network with Rebel Sports, Bio-Agrownica, and Alaxan FR as sponsors.
“Nakaka-excite kasi may nakikilala kang bagong mga kaibigan. Naglalaban kami 1 versus 1 pero nakakapag-bonding din kami. We’re getting together,” beamed Yu, adding that basketball-turned-Esports players enjoy constant communication through their own group chat.
As it stands, Yu recently bowed out of the competition while Carlos looks like the favorite in the tournament heading to his semi-finals match against Michael Are of San Sebastian College-Recoletos.
University of Perpetual Help System DALTA’s Jasper Cuevas and College of St. Benilde’s Carlo Lim will collide in the other semis-bracket this weekend.
The sport may have a huge difference from what they usually do – competing in packed arenas with fans cheering their hearts out for them – but for players like Yu and Carlos who’ve been longing for normalcy, it somehow feels the same.
“Nakaka-excite na, ngayon pa lang [na 1-on-1 ang laban], at mas lalong exciting kapag 5-on-5 na,” added the avid gamer Carlos, who even sometimes streams his games on his Facebook page “Puppet”.
Indeed, they are in for a more action-packed tournament when CCE launches the 5-on-5 Varsity Cup in October, its main event after the exhibition matches.
Like in basketball, the individual players today will have a golden chance to reconnect with their school varsity teammates as they shoot for the inaugural CCE crown.
To the squads seeking to rediscover their hardcourt connection and translate it to virtual mobile arenas, history and glory are there – and theirs – for the taking.