Minus BTV, what’s basketball without the NBA?

Paco Jarque is one of the luckiest people in Cebu. Why? It’s not because he won the P138,000,000 Super Lotto jackpot or scored a hole-in-one in golf then drove home a brand-new BMW X5, it’s this: Unlike you and me and tens of thousands of others living on this island who love basketball, he gets to watch—everyday—the 2008 NBA Playoffs. Not on the internet. Not via delayed telecast. Not from listening to Y101 updates. But “live.”

“I watch almost all the games,” said Paco, when we spoke on the phone yesterday.

When I called him at around 11:40 in the morning, guess what, he was watching and updating me—in real time—the Game 4 score of the L.A. Lakers vs. San Antonio Spurs.

“Nine-point lead for the Lakers,” he said. “And it’s the last three minutes of the game.”

Lucky, Paco. Because while the majority of us fall under one of three categories: a) Don’t have cable TV connection; b) Subscribed to SkyCable; and c) Connected to Dream TV—and we all can’t watch the NBA Eastern and Western Conference Finals—and, worse, the NBA Finals next week—Paco Jarque can.

Residing in Mandaue City, Paco has Destiny Cable connected. “I’ve been with Destiny for over one year now and pay only P600 per month,” he said. “Plus, aside from BTV, they have the many channels that SkyCable had before… Solar Sports, Jack TV…”

Too bad for us. Ever since Basketball TV (BTV) was cutoff from the channel lineup of SkyCable last January 1, we’d been cutoff from the National Basketball Association. I recall reading, on many occasions early this year, complaints from many, many readers, aired by my most esteemed Sun.Star colleagues: Frank Malilong, Jingo Quijano and Edgar Chiongbian. These three lambasted SkyCable for deleting these channels from the lineup. And rightfully so.

Destiny Cable? They’d be everybody’s choice except that, when I called to inquire last week, they operate only in Mandaue. Very soon, the person whom I spoke to on the phone said, they’ll be in Cebu City—but first, only around the Guadalupe area.

Even our very mayor, Tommy Osmeña—a huge, huge NBA fan, I’m told—is fuming mad about SkyCable’s disconnection of BTV and can’t wait to have Destiny Cable in his city.

Paco Jarque? He’s enjoying the NBA. The eldest son of Cisco and Marilen Jarque, I’ve known Paco, now 30, for many, many years—dating back to our high school days at the Cebu International School. And even back then, I’ve known that his favorite sport is—surprise!—basketball. He played the game before and, up until now, continues to dribble and shoot every Tuesday night with friends at Bright Academy.

Who are you rooting for? I asked.

“Lakers,” he said. “I was a big Miami Heat fan, especially of Dwayne Wade. I rooted for them during that time when they won. But now that they’re down, I’d have to go with the Lakers.”

A Lakers-Celtics final? “No. I like Detroit in the East. I hope it’s a Lakers-Detroit final. I don’t like the Celtics this year… maybe they can win the title next year. I like Detroit because they’ve been together for many years and only won one title. So, maybe this year again…”

Finally, before our conversation ended, I asked Paco if some of his friends are envious that he gets to watch the NBA Playoffs while they can’t.

“My dad and uncles all come to my house to watch. My cousin Edward also watches here,” he said.

Your buddies? Paco laughed hard. “I always joke all my friends who can’t watch… Napul-an nako sa NBA!”

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