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Fortunate to have played against Kobe Bryant, Yap, Norwood reminisce their closest Mamba encounters

by Reynald Magallon, January 27, 2020 4:26pm

The world was certainly caught off guard by the sudden passing of NBA legend Kobe Bryant on Monday, morning (Manila time).

The helicopter that would supposedly bring Bryant, along her 13-year old daughter, Gigi, to a basketball game crashed and immediately took the lives of the two and seven other people.

As soon as th news broke out, prayers and condolonces immediately poured all over the world, including some of the most avid Filipino Kobe fans.

Back in 2011, Bryant along other NBA stars that time went to Manila and played exhibition games against the first generation Gilas players and the PBA All-stars.

Rain or Shine Elastopainters' James Yap and Gabe Norwood were one of the fortunate PBA players to have ever shared the court with basketball's legendary icon. The two PBA stars were simply shocked by the news and just couldn't help but remenisce their closest encounter with the Black Mamba.

"Nagulat nga ako eh. Buhay talaga di natin alam. Syempre nakakalungkot kasi legend yun e. Pero I'm sure marami siyang napasayang tao," Yap said after ROS practice on Monday.

"Kung ano yung nabigay nyang kasiyahan sa mga tao nandun yun di mawawala yun. Nakakalungkot lang dahil masyadong maaga, he added.

Norwoord for one, didn't want to believe the news at first which was first reported by TMZ and was later confirmed by other media outlets.

"One of those things you think it's fake. You can't really process it right away you know just as a father first and foremost that's what I feel. He loses his daughter with him and also leave his daughter and wife behind. My heart goes out to the family," said Norwood.

The two had the chance to play with Bryant in one of his seven visits in the country. And the two marveled at the player who popularized the so-called 'mamba mentality' in the next generation of cagers.

"Nung kalaban ko siya iniisip ko babantayan ko talaga siya, kumbaga bantayan ko talaga kung gaano kagaling, nagawa ko naman pero magaling talaga," recalled Yap who during his prime years in the PBA, was compared to the late Laker legend.

"Blessed, nakakatouch (macompare kay Bryant) kasi ganun din naman ang mindset ko e. Ang mindset ko lagi magperform ng mabuti para mabigyan ng kasiyahan ang mga tao," he added.

Norwood meanwhile even had the chance to talk with Bryant during that same game.

"It's one of those you didn't think is a big deal, until you realize it was. Other people would love to be in that situation to share the court with him. To really sit down with him in the half, pick his brains a little bit," said Norwood.

The 6'4" lock down defender admitted he wan't really a Bryant fan but he admire the NBA star for his passion for the game.

"I'll be honest, I didn't grow up being a Kobe fan, I was a Jordan guy but his work ethic, his attention to detail, he's a self made legend," added Norwood.

"Some guys were born super athletic gifted or just have unbelievable mind but his competitive edge gave him a notch of everybody else."

"He's truly special player, special person," Norwood ended.

The 41-year old star retired in the NBA in 2016 in one of the most iconic farewell games in the league dropping 60-points.


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