LA Clippers’ CJ Williams saves Filipino Heritage Night at Staples Center

CJ Williams. Image ©

WITH nine seconds left on the clock, the Filipino Heritage Night was nothing but ruined for the Filipino Americans who came to cheer for the Los Angeles Clippers against the Atlanta Hawks.

But then, CJ Williams sunk a clutch 3-pointer from the court’s left wing, sending the Staples Center into a happy chaos.

With three seconds left on the clock, Atlanta’s Taurean Prince had a window to throw a 15-footer on the Hawks’ last possession. Fortunately (only for the Clippers’ crowd), he missed the shot.

CJ’s three-pointer put the Clippers over the Hawks on a one-point victory (108-107) and snapped its two-game losing skid.

Replay: Before that heartbeat-stopping desperation shot, Clippers star Lou Williams (who has scored 34 points that night) just missed his 3-pointer. The ball was rebounded by teammate Wesley Johnson who wisely passed it to the well-positioned CJ Williams.

The author with boxing star Brian Viloria. Image © Abner Galino

The unease of the Clipper’s fans, particularly the Filipino Americans who showed up for their heritage night at the coliseum, started about halfway in the fourth quarter.

Who would have thought last Monday’s game would turn that tight? The Hawks has been trailing by at least 10 points at the most throughout the three quarters that passed. But such was the National Basketball Association, a late game rally put the Hawks neck-in-neck with the Clippers (tied at 99) with roughly three minutes left in the game.

The heroics of Kent Bazemore put Atlanta four points ahead of Los Angeles and to make the anxiousness agonizingly slow for the Clippers’ crowd, the Hawks decided to foul Clippers’ star Deandre Jordan on three consecutive possessions.

The tactic didn’t work. Jordan sunk five of six free throws.

The contingent of Filipino Americans who sent off the Clippers squad from the dugout must have exhaled a collective sigh of relief when the buzzer rang. By then, each of them was confident that they won’t ever be accused of jinxing the Los Angeles ballers — through banters or for real.

With the Clippers win, the Fil-Am community has nothing but fond memories of the entire night that started with a reception at the City View Terrace of the Staples Center — where the Philippine Department of Tourism (P-DOT), headed by director Richmond Jimenez and the Philippine Air Lines (PAL), headed by Michelle Narvaez, hosted a select group of Filipino Americans to delicious snack.

The two entities rolled up the curtains for the ongoing “Bring Home A Friend” tourism campaign through the help of four reigning beauty queens from the Binibining Pilipinas-USA and Binibining Pilipinas Teen-USA.

Other guests were members of the media, boxing star Brian Viloria and Los Angeles public works commissioner Joel Jacinto.

Viloria, a four-time world champion on two divisions, will be fighting undefeated Ukranian fighter Artem Dalakian. The boxers will clash for the vacant World Boxing Association (WBA) flyweight title on February 24 at the Forum in Los Angeles.

Hip-hop artist Apl. de Ap, formerly of the famous Black Eyed Peas band, added distinction to the Filipino American contingent through his sterling performance (singing an original composition titled Bebot) during the game’s half time break. He was joined by another Fil-Am talent Jessica Reynoso – who herself wowed the crowd with her rendition of the Star Spangled Banner.

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