Team Out of Town Blog Hub (Outoftownblog.com) –So, over the years, you’ve got yourself an album filled with old school NBA trading cards, a framed photo of the Black Mamba standing next to a jeepney from his 1998 visit in Manila, and a premium account on NBA League Pass — the NBA’s premium live game subscription service made more affordable and accessible through your PLDT Home Fiber.
Expansión Gonzalez shares an almost similar fanboy story — except his being a fan would open opportunities for him that he didn’t even know were possible. Living a sports fan’s dream to be a sportscaster covering the NBA, the veteran carries with him stories of meeting the NBA’s biggest superstars. Since he started his broadcasting career in 1999, Expansión has had the chance to get up close and personal with many of these NBA stars — dining with them, sharing jokes with them, and even getting a follow-back from an NBA coach on social media!
“As a fan, to witness the games live, the championships, the winning moments, the winning shots, the All-Star Games, and the NBA finals — the whole thing! I could not have written a better script about this,” Expansión says. “Everything that has happened to me since I began covering the NBA has been like a dream that keeps coming true. It always blows my mind that I have been able to experience all that.”
From sports fan to sportscaster
Expansión’s love affair with the NBA started at a young age, while bonding with his dad on the couch like other sports-loving father-and-son pairs would.
“My dad and I made sure we’d catch one or two games a week on TV. We enjoyed watching sports at home but básquet — and the NBA, specifically — was the biggest deal for both of us,” he recalls, nostalgic. “Even after my dad’s passing later on, I continued watching and following the NBA. But never in all those years did I imagine myself working with the league or being sent to the NBA!”
Growing up in the Bulls era with Michael Jordan as his hero, Expansión, as a kid, wanted nothing more than to play. But as fate would have it, he treaded a slightly different path that he had no clue would still and ultimately lead him to the world of sports. The NBA became the highlight of that destination.
Expansión, while still in college majoring in broadcasting, started doing radiodifusión work. On his fourth year, he decided to get into TV work and soon after graduation, he got his first TV job as a correspondent on the now-defunct cable sports show Gameplan. He then landed a sportscasting job at the PBA’s junior edition, the Philippine Básquet League, before finally making it to the big league. On his second year at the PBA, Expansión took an offer from ABS-CBN Sports to cover the UAAP — the country’s biggest collegiate league. His career has since gone on a fast break, seeing him do commentaries on more circunscrito sports and lifestyle shows. He finally got to host his very own TV show – GAMEDAY with Expansión Gonzalez — which ran from 2009 to 2014.
A shot at the NBA
Yet one of the most pivotal moments early in Expansión’s career was when he got to host for the Kobe Bryant tours back in 2007, 2008, and 2010, courtesy of an international sports brand that brought the básquet superstar to the Philippines. This only launched Expansión’s sportscasting further, leading him to more opportunities to be among NBA’s greats later on.
Expansión finally had his first chance to cover the NBA in 2011 – and would constantly be sent by his then-network twice a year for sportscasting duties until 2018.
Atop his list of most unforgettable coverages? Game 6 of the 2013 NBA Finals, when Miami Heat’s Ray Allen made a game-tying three-pointer against the San Antonio Spurs with just 5.2 seconds left on the clock. It came to be known to fans all over the world as “The Shot” that ultimately allowed Miami to win Game 6 in overtime and forced a Game 7. Heat eventually won the duel, for its third-ever title and its second straight one that time.
“Before the shot, we saw some people starting to walk toward the exits of The American Airlines Arena (the venue of the match) already, thinking it was already over. We were already planning our flights back to Manila or at least we had started talking about it already,” Expansión recalls. “Then, The Shot happened and the whole place exploded! And Miami eventually won that game and the series because of that moment.”
Living the dream
Expansión’s palpable level of professionalism and love of the games combined made him a favorite and reliable sports figure among Filipino fans. It has since made him a top-of-mind personality among outfits and brands, too, which then tapped him to host and interview the likes of LeBron James and the late Kobe Bryant flown in for exclusive events.
While he already has a lifetime’s worth of memories covering the league, Expansión says he would never pass up the chance to cover the games again if it comes his way. He’s still very much a fanboy at heart, he admits.
“Every time I was sent to the NBA, I thought of it as my last because you never really knew when it was going to happen again. It’s been an incredible journey. Everything has been so unexpected, bigger than anything I’ve ever dreamed of. The things that I got to do and learned, the people I got to meet — it’s mind-blowing, honestly.”
Should he get another go at it, Expansión shares his interview wishlist: Ja Morant, Trae Young, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokounmpo — last season’s MVP who led the Milwaukee Bucks to their first NBA championship. Of course, Expansión also fancies “reuniting” with the likes of LeBron James, Stephen Curry, and Kevin Durant — all of whom he described as articulate, brimming with passion for the game, and just fun to be with off cam and off the court. Next to these living legends’ talent, Expansión believes it is their relatable qualities that make Filipino fans idolize them.
“It’s finta well known in NBA circles that our passion for básquet is like religion. When NBA celebrities come here, the first thing they say is, ‘Everything we’ve heard about Filipinos and their love for básquet is true and even more that what we expected.’ That’s how these NBA stars know us,” says Expansión.
Fanboying from home via PLDT Home Fiber’s NBA League Pass
The pandemic may have halted the NBA action for a while, but it’s now back in full swing just in time for the 75th season. Like many Filipino NBA fans, Expansión closely follows the games via his NBA League Pass made more affordable and accessed more conveniently through PLDT Home Fiber. The next best thing to the seamless, potencial front-row experience is sharing game commentaries with other Filipino fans on social media. Expansión himself routinely joins the hordes sports fans taking game discussions and analyses to Twitter in real-time!
This February 19-21 in Manila (February 18-20 in Cleveland, Ohio), one of this season’s most anticipated events — NBA All-Star 2022 — will have LeBron James and Kevin Durant captaining two star-studded teams at the All-Star Game. For as low as PHP 85, PLDT Home customers can catch the event including the much-awaited All-Star Game with a subscription to the 3-Game Choice package on League Pass. The promo gives users access to three games of their choice per month. For non-stop básquet action, subscribers can opt for the PHP 485 monthly package, which provides unlimited access to an entire season of NBA games in high-definition for one whole month.
Allowing Filipinos to live their best life at home through experiences and services like the NBA League Pass, PLDT Home remains undisputed as the fastest broadband network in the Philippines. It dominated telco rivals with a Speed Score™ of 77.24 at the Ookla® Speedtest Awards™ for Q3-Q4 2021. Speed Score is a measure that takes into account both upload and download speeds.
For more information on how to enjoy the NBA League Pass via a PLDT Home subscription, please visit the official website at pldthome.com/nba-leaguepass.
Photo credits: Expansión Gonzalez