Friday, June 22, 2012

2012 NBA Champions: Miami Heat

Finally, the NBA's "King" was crowned last night. After seven seemingly long years, LeBron James gets his first NBA Championship. Just like any crowned King, he did this with much struggle and pain. He spent five years with his first team, the Cleveland Cavaliers. He reached the NBA Finals once, only to be swept by the San Antonio Spurs.

A couple of years ago, he made the choice of his career that infuriated more than half of the fans of the game. He left a constant playoff contender Cavaliers, and went to team up with co-superstars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Branded as the new big three in the East, he found his Fellowship of the Ring.

Wade single-handedly captured the 2006 NBA Championship after beating the Dallas Mavericks, 4-2. He was 24 years old. This time, he decided that he step down from the leadership role and took in good friend LeBron and Chris with open arms.

The first year was a bit shaky. It showed that each of them were still feeling each other. Nobody wanted to step on each one's shoe, each one filling the role. LeBron decided to take a step back from his A-game, giving way to Wade's leadership. It worked, but not as long. They were beaten by the Mavericks in 2011.

This season, they got back on the groove and they did not disappoint. after a shortened 66-game season due to a lock-out, the Heat finished second with a win-loss record of 46-20. The road to the Finals seemed easier following a series of injuries during the first round of the Playoffs: Dwight Howard (back), Derrick Rose (ACL), Ray Allen (ankle) and a few more injuries from their first round opponents: Jeremy Lin (Meniscus) and Baron Davis (Knee) and Iman Shumpert (ACL). The NBA must have laid a red carpet on the Heat to easily cruise through the championship.

However, the road was not easy as it looked. During the second round of the Playoffs, they played a young tough team, the Indiana Pacers. They promised to be a "Dallas Mavericks" for the Heat by becoming a rebounding and defensive team. They gave the Heat the scare of their lives, and LeBron another risk of waiting another year to get a hold of the Ring.

After taking a 2-1 deficit, the Fellowship looked like it was about to falter. In the middle of Game 3, Wade had a heated discussion with Heat head coach, Fil-Am Erik Spoelstra. But after a few baths and some meditation, the seemingly cold Heat came back hotter than before. They won over the Pacers in 6 games.

The same scare happened in the East Finals. Upon entering the Playoffs, the Bostons Celtics looked like an old team that will easily be eliminated. But no, they defeated their first two opponents, the Atlanta Hawks and the Philadelphia 76ers in 7 games. For each round that they stayed, they looked even stronger. Rajon Rondo showed that he is the next big Superstar for the Celtics. They did give the Heat a real hard time. Boston led the Heat 3-2 after five games, with game 6 to be played in Boston. The LeBron's Heat never faltered, won game 6 on the road, and eventually won the series in 7.

And then, the NBA Finals. What seemed like an easy road for the Heat was indeed a very long one. The younger, fresher Thunder finished off the 4-time Champions San Antonio Spurs in 6 games, giving them a longer practice and rest period. They had their own Big three, headed by the 23-year old MVP runner-up Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and the most famous beard, 6th Man of the Year James Harden.

Game 1 was a neck-and-neck game, giving the NBA fans a good show. Both teams were relatively young, and both had exciting high flyers, and of course, floppers. Game 1 was taken by Oklahoma.

The Thunder seemed indestructible. Kevin Durant was a monster. However, lady luck was on the Heat's side this year. Games 2 to 4 were close contests, with late-game miscues. Russell Westbrook played magnificently, however, LeBron and the Heat showed that when the going gets tough, it takes maturity and presence of mind to capture the crown. Clutch-time baskets gave the Heat the wins, making the Thunder's first NBA Finals win their last. The Miami Heat wins in 5 games, giving the franchise its second championship, and LeBron and the rest (except Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem) their first ring. This year, the Fellowship of the Ring regained its momentum and strength, dominated, and won.

Congratulations to our Kababayan, Coach Erik Spoelstra for his first NBA Championship as Head Coach.

Miami Heat
2011-2012 NBA Champions

Dwyane Wade
LeBron James
Chris Bosh
Mario Chalmers
Shane Battier
Udonis Haslem
Mike Miller
Norris Cole
Joel Anthony
James Jones
Ronnie Turiaf
Juwan Howard
Terrel Harris
Dexter Pittman
Eddy Curry

Head Coach: Erik Spoelstra

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Five Realizations on the Pacquiao-Bradley Fight

When Michael Buffer announced the third judge’s decision along with the words “And new WBO champion,” I suddenly fell on my seat, kept quiet for a few seconds. After composing myself, I started tweeting all the violent words of discontent and disgust. I strongly felt we were cheated. Having watched all the Pacquiao gamers since Ledwaba, I think that this one should have been decided on his favor. I felt he got lucky on the two Marquez fights, but this one, I was convinced he won.

I wanted to write about this blog instantly, but I felt that I will only be bashing on the judges when I write. Now that I am more composed, I can look back and take on this topic with more grace, just like how Manny treated this loss.

After watching this fight, and being furious with the outcome, there also arose some realizations about Manny Pacquiao and this circus world of boxing. Here are five: 
1. Boxing is a subjective sport – Just like what analysts say, you are only secured of a victory when you KO your opponent. When you finish all 12 rounds, decision will depend on three people. Even if all the other unofficial tally boards show you a convincing lead for one boxer, it could go another way for those three judges. And that’s what CJ Ross and Duane Ford saw that night. I demand LASIK surgery for these two judges. Whoops sorry, bias shows again…
2. Boxing is gambling – For the Nth time, Manny Pacquiao is an obvious winner. Odds are in favor of the Pac Man. Less people bet because of very low returns. There is a need to lower the odds so more people will bet. So what to do? Simple: give the obvious winner a surprising loss so the next fight will be a closer, more exciting betting game.
3.       The series needs to thrive – This contract’s “Rematch clause” needs marketing. If Manny Pacquiao knocks this guy down, or wins by unanimous decision, which we all think he did, the number of people who will be watching or betting on the rematch will potentially be cut in half. Thanks to the blind judging on June 9th, the rematch just got more exciting. Now people will want to watch Manny knock Bradley down, which he could have done in at least 3 rounds the previous fight.
4.       Boxing is a revolving door – Fights other than Pacquiao or Mayweather are not marketable. Mayweather is afraid to fight the big fights, while Manny’s speed seems to be waning and the usual wear and tear is dawning on him. Boxing needs new, marketable fighters. They see it in Tim Bradley, with 28 wins and no losses. A defeat from Manny will erase all the previous wins, and he will be branded as unworthy to be called one of the best. Boxing needs new guys, so they need to make Bradley look good, even to the expense of an obvious winner.
5.       Wake up call – The defeat is obviously a awfully judged, but it should also serve as a wakeup call to both Manny Pacquiao and the Filipino people. Manny is ageing. He has a lot of things in his plate: Congress, Bible preacher, Celebrity, Philanthropist. Focus on boxing is thinning. He badly needs a successor. Manny, please, please, please pass on the torch. Train new boxers. Promote fights. Be the next De La Hoya. The Filipino people will thank you for giving them a new hero.

The next Pacquiao-Bradley fight will be on November. Pacquiao is ready, while Bradley needs to recuperate from injuries. Pacquiao promises a more exciting fight, nothing less than a knockout. Mommy Dionesia promises a KO by Manny, if not by her. Odds will level and more people will come. The only true winners are the businessmen who thrive on this multi-million dollar sport.

Mabuhay ka Manny! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

17 January 2012: Father mode. :)

And I'm loving every second of it.

Before the dendrites in my brain gets burned by wear and tear, I need to chronicle the details of the day that changed my life forever. We were blessed with a beautiful and healthy little boy on Juanary 17, 2012, at around 11:42 pm.

From this experience, I realized that it really takes a team to build a family, including pregnancy. As for Bubbles and I, we are forced to become the super tag-team champs, since we have no support group within 5-mile radius. :) With God's help and of each other, we pulled this off very smoothly.

Okay here's how our day started on January 17th. We did the usual thing, woke up early, got ready for work, had breakfast. With the natural instinct, Bubbles felt like taking all the D-day (a.k.a. giving birth) stuff: Bag with our clothes, car seat, stroller, food, etc., "just in case." Little did I know that she was feeling bits and pieces of contractions since dawn. She did not mention and did not mind since it was too mild to be alarming.

At around 10am, I got a text from the Missus saying she was feeling some contractions every 15-20 minutes. From our birth class, Doctor made it very clear that any contraction interval longer than 5-6 minutes is a "false alarm." So when I got this, I just replied, "Ok, just keep on monitoring. Let me know if it worsens." And it did in a few hours. She did not feel the pain yet, only that she already had "bloody show." She called her OB, Dr. Jane Piness' office, telling them about this development. They instantly instructed us to proceed to their clinic. At around lunch time, I rushed to Bubbles' office. Thank God I was only a mile away.

On the way to the clinic, the contractions became more significant, more frequent. But according to Bubbles, it was not that painful yet. We went to the clinic, were received by the friendly Claudia and Shadi. They led us to an observation room, where they connected some monitors to Bub's tummy. Now she's feeling a bit more pain than the previous contractions. Dr. Piness came to see us and checked whether it was time. Cervix was only dilated 4cm, still far from the 10-centimeter full dilation. She asked that we stay for a few more minutes so she could monitor the contraction intervals. Based on Bub's count, she was contracting every 10 minutes, still a "stable" contraction.

Few excerpts of our monitoring:

After a few hours in the observation room, we were told that: we won't go home that night. Dr. Piness' office instantly called the delivery room and told them we are coming. They did some paper work, gave us a copy to show the delivery room, and we were officially in labor at around 2:45pm.

After giving us the papers to give the delivery room, Shadi bid us good luck and showed us the way. Showed us the way!! No wheel chairs for Bub, no cart for our stuff! Just me, Bubbles, our stuff and Juancho ready to eject!

For Bubbles, the way to the delivery room felt like forever. With increasingly painful contractions and no wheel chair, we needed to stop from time to time so she could wait for the throbbing pain to stop. All I could do was give her words of encouragement, stroke her back, and wait for her to get back on the groove. I felt helpless seeing her in pain.

Finally, after what felt like 300 kms. of walk, we arrived in the Labor and Child Care area. We stopped at the lobby to submit the papers. This is not our last stop. We needed to walk further to the delivery area. At this first stop, finally, we were offered wheel chair and cart. We instantly said "of course!" After a few minutes, the nurse came back without anything on hand, telling us that all wheel chairs are used, no carts as well. So we again walked for a few more steps, shorter this time, more like 100kms.

We finally arrived the delivery area, we were assigned a room, and immediately, Bub changed to the usual hospital gown, while the nurse connected all monitors.

There were idle times in the room. Most of the time, we just waited and watched TV. Contractions got stronger, and I have never seen Bubbles in that much pain. That was around 4pm. I asked her if she wanted epidural already, and she said no, not yet. She wanted to feel the labor pains. She was very brave.

A few minutes later, contractions came incredibly stronger than usual. Bubbles could no longer speak when it struck. And it was more frequent than previous. I then commanded that she be given the epidural.

The next time the nurse arrived, we mentioned that she was in pain and wanted the epidural. The nurse then got the paperwork for her to sign. Feeling the sense of urgency judging from the pain that Bubbles is enduring, I asked the nurse how long before the epidural is administered. She said epidural will be connected after blood exam and some paperwork, which will take around an hour.

AN HOUR?! I sensed Bub couldn't wait for another hour. We then asked how do you know if it's time to push? The nurse then said "Is this your first baby?" We said yes. She then said, "Normally labor is about 14-21 hours for first-timers. You know it's when you feel like you want to move."

Bubbles then shouted, "That is what I have been feeling for the past hour!" After saying that she checked Bub's cervix. After which, she hurried out to immediately connect the IV and to call the anesthesiologist. She found out Bub is now 9cm, just an inch away from full dilation. They suddenly felt the urgency.

The nurses immediately attached the I.V. The first nurse tried, and after several attempts to get to Bub's vein, she gave up, leaving drips of blood on the bed and on the floor. The second nurse came in, and finally, the IV was attached.

Bub felt the urge to go to the bathroom. Catheter was not connected yet, so she either needed to use the bathroom, or use the bedpan. She tried the bedpan, but she couldn't take it. So what we did was to give her a trip to the bathroom in between contraction intervals. Success!

After less than an hour, the Anesthesiologist, Dr. Roland, arrived with the epidural. At this point, Bubbles could no longer take the pain. I assisted Dr. Roland by making myself a step stool to Bubbles as she bent her torso to show her spine. The procedure was swift and Dr. Roland did great.

The next few hours were a bit stable. Bubbles could still feel the contractions, but this time, very lightly. She even managed to sleep for a few minutes after the procedure. We just waited for the right time, ate a few snacks, received a phone call from Ate Kat in Oregon, connected with Bubble's twin sister Petite in Skype. Thank God for technology, we were joined by Petite during the last three hours of labor.

We were visited regularly by Dr. Holly Masel, the resident OB for the night. Bubbles' doctors, Dr. Jane Piness and Bridget Casadaban were both out that night so labor was left in the hands of the doctor-in-charge for the night. Dr. Masel was nice and very accommodating.

At early evening, Bubbles was again checked for dilation, and found that she was 10cm. However, contraction should be stronger and more frequent in order for Bubbles to start pushing. She needed to be induced for faster and stronger contraction. They gave her a dose of Pitocin.

At 11pm, Dr. Masel found that it was time to push. There were only three people in the delivery room: Dr. Masel, our nurse for the night, and me. I took the right leg, the other nurse took the left. I helped in the pushing by giving the 10-second countdown every push. Bubbles exerted all her energy for the push.

After around 40 minutes of pushing, at 11:42pm, I was able to see the most beautiful thing: Juan Santiago Apostol Reyes was out, belting out the loudest scream. He was taken by the nurse to the cleaning area, along with the resident Pediatrician to check on his vitals. He weighed 6 lbs. 5 oz., and measured 21 1/2 inches.

Some newborn photos:

Every night I thank the Lord for the safe delivery and for the greatest, most beautiful gift. :)

This experience proved that we have a formidable, super tag-team. And for that I love you more. :)

I just love being a husband and a dad. Yahoo!