Manila Clasico. Christmas Clasico. The reason my family rushed home after Christmas lunch. Call it what you want, but the December 25 game between Barangay Ginebra and the Magnolia Hotshots is a tradition for PBA fans on the level of puto bumbong with extra niyog.
For the 22,531 fans who drove out to the Philippine Arena in Bulacan, Christmas Day games are as much about the spectacle as they are about the actual play. Here are the best moments from the Manila Clasico match of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup.
1. Mark Caguioa’s tribute to Jayjay Helterbrand
It may be Barangay Ginebra’s first conference without Jayjay Helterbrand, but they won’t be retiring his #13 jersey any time soon. His best friend Mark Caguioa switched over from #47 to #13 as a tribute to the 16-year-long “Fast & Furious” bromance. This isn’t a one-off tribute either—Caguioa will be wearing that number all season.
2. Joe DeVance’s Christmas OOTD
Speaking of interesting outfits, Barangay Ginebra big man Joe DeVance showed up in a Santa Claus-like red vest with white trim. Though still recovering from foot surgery, the resident funny man had on Santa Claus socks that peeked through his protective footgear.
— PBA (@pbaconnect) December 25, 2017
3. Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee keep the Hotshots alive
Despite being down 48-37 at the half, the Hotshots’ star players came up big to get within one in the third quarter, and they were down by what looked to be a manageable six points going into the fourth. It was also Ian Sangalang driving the offense for Magnolia in the last period. He ended up finishing with 25 points, outscoring Greg Slaughter.
4. That LA-Japeth Christmas Dunk
Veteran point guard LA Tenorio put up eight assists against Magnolia, with the biggest being a dish to Japeth Aguilar for a fourth-quarter monster alley-oop that not only gave the Barangay cushion against Magnolia, but also had fans tweeting: “MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!”
5. Ginebra takes home 5th straight Manila Clasico!
No better way for Barangay Ginebra to kick off their 2017 Philippine Conference than a decisive 97-86 win. This is their 5th straight Manila Clasico win, bringing them up to 8-3 in Clasico games since last season. This is also their third straight Christmas Clasico win. The first Christmas Clasico win of Ginebra was their dramatic come-from-behind game back in 2015.