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Without question, the COVID-19 global pandemic situation crippled the sports world, which is why the Chooks-to-Go MPBL Invitational powered by TM is a welcome sight for athletes for them to be able to return to their normal lives.
And it’s not only professional hoops players who are benefitting from the steady return of sports to what it used to be.
Tournament courtside reporter Christiana Dimaunahan, for instance, is enjoying her return to the broadcast panel after her first tour of duty was abruptly cut short by the public health situation back in 2020.
The 21-year-old daughter of former PBA pro Aris is one of seven women working the sidelines as part of the MPBL pool, which includes Mica Abesamis, Gianna Llanes, Makyla Chavez, Yani Mayo, Aiyana Perlas, and Trixie Pimentel.
Being part of the production squad for the 13-day tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena is something Christiana is cherishing, given she admittedly does not have vast experience yet in the bag.
“I was surprised because my last stint being a CSR was 2020 with the ABL (ASEAN Basketball League), just once. And then after that, nag-lockdown na. Hindi na natuloy,” Dimaunahan shared.
She was part of the local broadcast for the regional tournament when San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas hosted a game, before the entire country went on strict lockdowns due to the coronavirus.
Chooks-to-Go’s call was such a welcome surprise for her that Christiana gamely accepted the offer in spite of the tournament being in the early stages of its preparations.
“After a year and more, ngayon, (BAVI resident spokesperson) Mark Zambrano called me and asked me if I was okay being part of the courtside reporters pool for the Invitational league, and na-excite ako agad,” she detailed.
“I said yes, kahit wala pang gaanong details kasi namimiss ko na ‘yung pakiramdam ng nasa court, kahit hindi man ako naglalaro, parang makanood lang and ma-feel ‘yung court, nakaka-excite siya for me.”
Christiana, of course, is a member of the collegiate women’s basketball powerhouse National University Lady Bulldogs squad.
And of all people, it’s her father also honing Christiana to become the best in her craft, as Aris has been fully hands on with how to train her daughter in her newfound endeavor.
“Buong game, nanonood siya sa phone niya then tine-text niya ako ng mga puwede kong sabihin and then after ng game, minsan nanonood kami nang sabay sa bahay tapos naka-mute. Tapos sinasabi niya, anong puwede mo sabihin diyan, anong nakikita mo,” Christiana shared.
“Kasi he wants me to become the reporter na alam rin ‘yung technicalities ng laro, alam kung ano mga kailangan bigyan ng focus like players na maganda ang ginagawa ko. Daddy ko talaga ang mentor ko and grateful ako sa kanya kasi full-blown rin ‘yung support niya sa akin.”
As the UAAP might restart without including women’s hoops in its planned return, the Financial Management student-athlete is lucky to have other ways to stay connected to the game she loves.
She treats the experience as both a challenge to do her best, and an exciting new journey where she can flourish further.
“It’s exciting and nakaka-pressure. The people I’m with sa panel, sa broadcast team, all of them are very experienced and dito na sila lumaki. Nag-aannounce sa court,” she said.
“And ako, ito, biglang sinasalang, player lang naman (initially), hindi naman talaga CSR so I am also taking it as a challenge para ma-improve ko pa ang sarili ko. It’s an honor and it’s very exciting.”
Photo from Chooks-to-Go MPBL