Team Out of Town Blog Hub (Outoftownblog.com) – Volleyball may have been Gretchen Ho’s ticket to fame as one of the Ateneo Lady Eagles’ Fab Five during the 2010s — the sport that paved her way to being a celebrity athlete and journalist. But catch the PLDT ambassador in a heart-to-heart, and she’ll let you in on her first great love — basketball.
“My dad was a basketball player in his youth, so he would always teach us how to play and keep us abreast with the latest basketball games. My three brothers and I grew up to be basketball lovers! We’re a very sporty family, so enjoying the NBA with them was just one natural way we bonded together,” Gretchen recalls.
From an NBA fangirl to a bona fide sportscaster who has covered the games on location and met the league’s stars in person way back when, Gretchen — like many other basketball fans — has found new ways to enjoy the games despite the pandemic. The TV5 and One News anchor remain updated with the league’s 75th season through the NBA League Pass, the NBA’s premium live game subscription service. Using the League Pass, made more affordable and accessible through PLDT Home Fiber, Gretchen is able to watch the games and other exclusive content with the family — an experience that triggers many childhood memories and even life aspirations.
An NBA fangirl’s dream
One of Gretchen’s most memorable NBA moments was watching the historic Chicago Bulls – Utah Jazz Finals Game 6 back in 1998. At eight years old, she saw Michael Jordan steal the ball from Karl Malone, with the Jazz leading 86-85 and with 18.9 seconds left. A young Gretchen found herself sharing the victorious moment as MJ nailed that game-winning jumper to give the Bulls their sixth title.
“When Michael Jordan made his final winning shot, I was jumping up and down the bed in my pajamas! Sabi ko nga nung bata ako, pangarap ko maging NBA player — hindi WNBA, NBA talaga! I don’t know why I said that to my dad as a young girl!” she recalls with a laugh.
While the opportunity to be an NBA player remains a hoop dream, Gretchen was able to experience the next best thing: Covering the NBA All-Star Weekend twice in a row as a sports journalist.
“It was surreal for me and a great privilege. Seeing all the top NBA athletes come together to play felt like being in the Disneyland of basketball. It was great seeing how agile, strong, and flawless they were in their play,” she enthuses.
Among Gretchen’s biggest NBA fangirl moments were in 2018 when she interviewed Chris Bosh who was then set to retire from a blood clot injury; and in 2019, when she saw Michael Jordan himself in the historic Staples Center (now Crypto.com Arena) in Los Angeles.
“I’ve always loved every chance I got to tell these stories. As an athlete and a sports fan myself, I’ve always made sure to pour my heart into sharing these inspiring journeys to the audiences,” she says of the experience.
Her hardcourt inspiration
It is every sports fan’s dream to meet their idols in person. In Gretchen’s case, not only did she meet Golden State Warriors Stephen Curry, she also hosted two events for him during his time in Manila.
“Steph Curry is a phenomenal game-changer—the first player in NBA history to make 3,000 career 3-pointers. And yet, he stays humble. I love who he is inside and outside the court. He’s very playful on the court and a great family man off it,” she shares.
Gretchen personally feels drawn to stories of underdogs who had fought through with nothing but perseverance — much like San Francisco’s Golden Boy.
“Beyond the games, what I love about the NBA are the inspiring stories the league’s stars carry with them. It’s amazing how much hard work they put into their craft to stand out and make a mark among other great basketball players around the world,” she says.
“What I love the most are stories of players who have been undervalued yet have worked their way up with a constant improvement, quality in performance, and commitment so they can be the best they could ever be. I think this is relatable to anybody who aspires to be better in whatever they do.”
A growing NBA community
It’s this underdog arc that Gretchen finds relatable to many Filipinos — known for pulling through adversity in any sport, career, or just about any situation.
“It’s no secret. Everywhere you go in the Philippines, there’s always a basketball court! If not a full one, there’s at least a makeshift one on some post or board,” she muses.
Gretchen especially feels delighted that Filipino athletes are now making it in the league. Take for example Utah Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson and Houston Rockets’ Jalen Green, she says, two Filipino-American athletes now sharing the NBA court for the first time and making a mark in the league.
“This just goes to show that the Filipino can make it. I love it when Jordan and Jalen openly acknowledge that they are Filipinos! It makes the dream to send a full-blooded Filipino even more reachable when you see the two of them doing well in the NBA!”
These days, even with no NBA field assignments, Gretchen stays updated with the league through her devices. As the excitement continuously piles up on the NBA’s historic 75th Anniversary Season, Gretchen remains connected to the world’s biggest basketball league — through the NBA League Pass powered by PLDT Home.
For fans like Gretchen who can get technical about the games, the NBA League Pass offers live stats and multiple viewing options. It also includes the NBA Mobile View, which delivers a closer shot of the action optimized for viewing on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices.
“It is a great way to keep up with the jam-packed schedule of games, storylines, and tributes. With NBA League Pass, I’m able to watch the marquee games live and on-demand,” Gretchen says. “I also love that it has many great features — like using different camera angles so I can view every heart-stopping moment the way I want to!”
With NBA League Pass charged to your PLDT Home Fiber bill, Filipino homes can have a virtual front-row seat to a variety of games for as low as P85 a month!
PLDT Home remains the undisputed fastest broadband network in the Philippines after an impressive speed performance for the second half of 2021, dominating its telco rivals with a Speed Score™ of 77.24 at the Ookla® Speedtest Awards. With the brand’s fast and reliable internet connection, NBA fans can enjoy uninterrupted sports action and continue to be updated on the league and its biggest stars this season and beyond!
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: Gretchen Ho