By Landon Blackhall
Most poker players love following some form of sport, and visitors don’t have to go far to get their dose in the Philippines. However, the domestic sporting scene is dominated by the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA).
The competition was launched in 1975, making it the oldest professional basketball league in Asia. There are some unique features about the PBA – all the teams play two championship tournaments each year.
The first is the Philippine Cup, held from October to February the following year and only allows native Filipinos to participate. The Fiesta Conference is then held March to July, allowing one foreign player or “import” per team.
Basketball was introduced to the Philippines at the turn of the 20th century by members of the United States YMCA. The first game was played in Manila and from there the game flourished across the islands, leading to regular appearances in the Asian Cup and the Olympic Games – an impressive achievement as you don’t come across too many six-foot let alone seven-foot tall Filipinos.
Every team is named after a corporation and not a geographical location; so that’s how the PBA ends up with fixtures such as Burger King versus San Miguel, two of the 11 teams that make up the league.
We’ve developed an obvious affinity with the San Miguel Beermen, the most successful team in the PBA with 18 championships. Poker players may be keen on the Alaska Aces, who have 12. And in case you were wondering, yes, the Burger King team are known as the Whoppers.
Speaking of pro sports, the remaining PokerStars.net Team Asia Pros – Jonathan Lin, Bryan Huang and Celina Lin – have managed to score some chips off their opponents to each be around the starting stack of 20,000.
In contrast, Tom Hall has joined the long list of players to be sent to the rail. The end came for Hall after two players limped in pre-flop before China’s Wei Sha made it 4000 to go. Hall moved all in for around 18,000 and the limpers got out of the way. Sha snap-called, tabling J♥ J♦ against Hall’s A♠ 3♠.
The flop was spread K♦ J♣ 9♦ and when the 6♦ fell on the turn, Hall shook hands with his opponents and left before the dealer peeled off the A♦ on the river.
And Vladimir Geshkenbein has taken a hit to his stack at the hands of US PokerStars Qualifier David Hilton. The money was all in the middle pre-flop after Geshkenbein called the all-in raise of Hilton with 10♥ 7♠ and found himself well behind the American’s 9♥ 9♦. The board ran out K♣ 7♣ K♥ 9♣ 10♦ to double Hilton up to 50,000, about the same as the former chip leader’s stack.
Meanwhile, we caught up with two of the PokerStars.net pros here in Cebu – Team Australia’s Tony Hachem and Team Asia’s Jonathan Lin:
Watch APPT Cebu 09: Jonathan Lin & Tony Hachem on PokerStars.tv