I was watching Game 5 of the Boston-Toronto game, won by the Celtics for a 3 -2 lead and keeping alive my prediction of a Celtics’ win in 6 games, and a sportscaster mentioned that three-point shots were deciding a lot of games now in the playoffs.
And I remembered the conversation on the same topic I had just the day before over the phone with an old-school basketball defensive player, a real stopper of offensive players on the opposing teams.
Old-timer basketball fans, including me, will remember Padim Israel, the good-looking product of Ateneo de Manila in the mid 1970s. After all, Padim was with the team that won back-to-back NCAA titles in 1975 and 1976, together with the likes of then future PBA players, too, Steve Watson, Joy Carpio, Fritz Gaston and Bambi Kabigting, another defensive specialist like Padim.
He remembers the fact that I was the very first sportswriter then to do a feature on him, which is why despite the passage of time, we remain comfortable with one another, even after his retirement in 1993 after 12 seasons in the PBA in a career that started off with Crispa and had stints with Tanduay, Purefoods and Presto. Along the way, he earned a slot in the All Defensive team, was a Most Improved Player and became part of a 2nd Mythical Team in the PBA in the mid 80s, aside from earning several championships, including Crispa’s Grand Slam.
And maybe that was the reason why when we talked about the current NBA playoffs, he admitted he is very disconnected with the present PBA now and follows the NBA more.
Padim does not like three-point shots, saying it looks like NBA games are really more on long-distance shooting now, with everyone wanting to shoot threes that the other aspects and skills of basketball like post plays are being forgotten, though he accepts that basketball is a shooting game.
Which is another reason why even if LeBron James is his favorite player, he thinks the Clippers have a very good chance to win this year. They are 2-1 against Denver as of this writing.
In fact, he is very impressed with Kawhi Leonard, who shoots more in the two-point zone or drives to the basket than take those rainbow shots. But pressed for a definite pick, he limited it to saying the Top 4 teams should be the Lakers, Clippers, Celtics and the Heat.
My “untrustworthy” crystal ball told me before the playoffs started that Boston, the LA Lakers, the LA Cllppers and Milwaukee would be in the Final 4. But Jimmy Butler and the Heat made a liar out of me as they finished off the Bucks, 4-1, to advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Back to Padim, whose decision to become a Christian pastor after his PBA career came as a big surprise considering his good looks and legions of female fans, we also ended up comparing his era with the current players. He admitted that present day PBA players are bigger, taller, more athletic with more stamina and have a higher level of skills. His generation’s edge, he says, is in “diskarte” or “gulang” together with being more physical.
Padim is a semi-retired as a pastor, but is still available on call from time to time and is a pulpit minister evangelist with the Living World Christian Churches of Cebu International.
He described his becoming a pastor as a call from the Lord and started with a hunger for the word of God, eventually becoming a desire to share and teach it.
He remains happily married to actress Rio Locsin, with the marriage blessed with three daughters, all single and still living with the couple in Las Pinas.
When there is opportunity, he plays with his remote-controlled cars in a parking lot in Muntinlupa, but with the pandemic, he rarely goes out of the house.
My final memory of Padim is he was a cerebral player and when I had that interview with him so many pounds and black hair ago, he was the only player I have met to have used the word paradigm, a word that a lot of his contemporaries may have a difficulty of knowing and spelling.
Good to have reconnected with the guy.
By the way, tomorrow, Friday, I will be turning over to the city government of Mandaluyong for its public hospital, around 100 boxes of face masks and several gallons of alcohol, thanks to people, who lent a hand, namely Michael Yulo, Atty. Rob Avenida, my kids JM and Janis, former PBA player Mike Advani, Alex Wang, Paco Catholic high school batchmates Boy Samsin, Sari Razon, an anonymous batchmate and Wendy Ann Dizon. God bless you all!