One Night’s Loss and the Win of a Lifetime: A die-hard Spurs fan’s San Antonio Pilgrimage

By Bea Fabregas

It’s been exactly a week and a day since the 3rd of March but I remember every second of that day.

Before I start babbling about what may have been a random day on the third month of the year to you, let me introduce myself. My name is Bea and I love the Spurs. I first laid eyes on Pop, Timmy, Manu and Tony when I was 11 years old. Boring, reliable and old is what everybody called them. I never quite understood that, to me they were thrilling, fascinating and inspiring. I’m 26 now and in return of my love for them, they have given this fan five NBA championships.

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You get the picture. Now, I don’t know about you but I don’t know a single soul from San Antonio. I never really thought it would ever be possible to see a game live. Pack a bag and fly to San Antonio, Texas? FOR A GAME? It always sounded a little indulgent to me.

But in 2018 things were different.

Timmy’s been retired (I miss him) for two seasons now. Manu is 40 – still playing – and when he’s on the floor there are mini-Beas in my head doing a prayer rally against any injuries. Tony is 35 and has just returned from a knee injury that pretty much devastated me. And good old Coach Pop looks grumpier than ever. And so I decided, it was time to fly to San Antonio, Texas and watch my Spurs.

I flew to the US right after Valentines day, and the game was to fall on the 3rd of March at the AT&T center. They were going to play the Lakers. My boyfriend Nikko (who is a Laker fan, FYI) followed a few days later and my Dad would fly just for the Spurs game. My Dad’s favorite player is Manu Ginobili so when he found out I was going to make the trip, safe to say he got jealous and booked a ticket.

Nikko and I spent a week in New York and another week in Chicago. That’s way too long for someone who’s as anxious as I am. But I told myself, I’d try and enjoy my vacation and worry about keeping it together later.

Finally, two weeks and five pounds later (these US food portions are no joke), we were finally on a freakin’ flight to San Antonio! I was hours away from my first Spurs experience. The venue, cheering with the rest of the fans, witnessing Chuck Cureau their in arena host live, and of course actually seeing Coach Pop, Becky Hammon, Manu and Tony?? We were all hours away from being together.

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March 3, 6:15pm. This specific date and time is so important to me now I think I’ll plan my wedding around it. Who would’ve ever guessed that I would be in the same room with the best coach in the entire universe for pre-game media availability? YUUUUUUUUUUP. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN, THIS WAS NOT A DRILL. I was sweating in areas not appropriate to share because yes, GREGG POPOVICH WAS RIGHT IN FRONT OF ME.

We weren’t allowed to take videos but we were allowed to record audio so I swiftly whipped out my phone and started recording. I didn’t even know if it was working but I recorded anyway. Now, at this point in my life, I’d seen enough games to know that Pop doesn’t appreciate stupid questions. During that little intimate huddle we were in with the rest of the media, I was trying to read his mood and be brave enough to utter a word to him. I didn’t get to ask him a question, but I did get to talk to him and this is how it happened.

Cue Nikko Ramos. Well thank God for that guy? I’m thankful for this man in many ways but this has to top that list, uhm forever. It was the last question Pop was going to take and Nikko jumped right in.

He told him we flew all the way from the Philippines to be in San Antonio to catch the game and that we were leaving the next day. Pop couldn’t believe it. He stared at us like we were crazy, and then said he was very flattered. I told him I was very excited and he said he was sorry to disappoint us. Guys there was some real bantering going on between Pop, Nikko and I? Okay mostly the two of them and I was standing there nodding and smiling, but could you blame me? I was right in front of the man who was such a big part of why I loved this organization so much. The 11-year old-Bea in my head was freaking out, but the 26-year-old Bea was trying to look professional. And for the most part I THINK I did. Props to me for holding it together!

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After about a minute and a half of talking with Pop, he extended his hand to shake Nikko’s first and then he shook mine. Guys, I was literally SHOOKT. At that point another Bea in my head was running around the halls of the dugout yelling “I shook Pop’s hand!!!!!!!”

THIS IS A BIG DEAL. THIS IS EVERYTHING. I’ll have this moment with me and tell my grandchildren (who will all be Spurs fans) about it. If my life had a top ten highlight, this would be up there fighting with me graduating from the University of the Philippines for the number one spot (I mean me, UP? who knew?).

Freaking out aside, it was more than I could have ever imagined or hoped for. I started to thank God I was in sports broadcasting in the Philippines and for everything that led up to this moment in time. Then I started thanking God for my boyfriend Nikko because that moment was FREAKING AWESOME. Do you think I’m exaggerating? I don’t care, I shook Pop’s hand.

We walked out from the dugout to the court (uhm I actually walked through the same hall as all the players uuuuuggggh so cool) and it was around 6:30pm. Yup. There’s more.

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First person who ran out for shootaround was Danny Green, then Manu Ginobili, then Tony Parker, then Patty Mills (who bumped me on the way to the court UUUUGH pinch me) then Kyle Anderson, then Pau Gasol. All a foot away from me. Please refer to my instagram stories because I’m not making this up. This used to be a dream, and at that moment, they were all standing right in front of me. My heart was incredibly full.

The game started, and everything in me was trying to process that it was actually happening. Man, everyone has to see Manu and Tony live. Every move they made was so familiar to me after having watched all those games, except I WAS THERE. My own two eyes witnessed Tony drive to the basket and Manu school the younger guys. Then there was Pop, who would walk by his bench and call his timeouts just like he would on TV. Pinch me, we actually made it to San Antonio and there was so much going on.

To my left was my Dad whose face was priceless. He was having so much fun I wish there was a video I could watch back. To my right was my boyfriend who was cheering for his team. Yeah he was having as much fun too. Then there was me, sitting, smiling, processing, watching and thanking God for the beautiful day that wasn’t even over.

So they lost to the Lakers that day 112-116 (yeah I know they’ve been losing a lot these days). Lonzo Ball hit all those treys in the fourth quarter and the Spurs didn’t recover. Remember that beautiful moment where I was thanking God for my amazing, intelligent boyfriend Nikko Ramos? Yeah I might have taken that prayer back with the way he was cheering every time Lonzo hit a three. How annoying? You had to see it to believe it. But I couldn’t expect him to not cheer for his team, I mean our love doesn’t run that deep. I had to get over it and start talking to him because he was literally my only friend there.

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I left the AT&T arena that night with my first Spurs experience in my pocket. Stored safe so no one could ever take it away. From the moment my feet landed in San Antonio, up until the airport the next day, every single moment was embedded into my system. An article won’t do that day’s experience justice. Sure they lost, but this girl shook Pop’s hand and got to see her favorite team live at home and it was the best loss of my entire life.

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