February 17, 2007

Nicholas Stoodley - Living in the Twilight Zone Part 2 of Chapter 6

Tune in every Saturday as Nicholas recalls the Disco Decade in Manila when Martial Law, Cuban heels, Donna Summer, Coco Banana and a lot of hair combined in a frenzy of uncertain excitement.

Chapter 6 - Basketball Fever Part Two

For reasons that were not really clear to me (for I didn't know how to play basketball and had only a vague perception that somehow getting the ball through the hoop – and not the "goal" as I had embarrassingly called it when interviewed by a newspaper – was a good way to score a lot of points) we actually managed to win the third game. This state of events didn't exactly go down too well with the Toyota supporters but my fate was sealed! Since I had been sent up to sit with them in the "cheap" seats about two kilometers from the court and we WON, then obviously THAT was what changed our luck! Well, great for the team but not so good for the Englishman; not only could I hardly see what was going on below me in the far distance but if anyone discovered who was sitting in their midst disguised with dark glasses and a basketball cap pulled down low over their face (thus almost totally obscuring what little vision I had of the game - I may as well have stayed at home) then I was history. Toast!

A rather fat but energetic lady sat to my right screaming "Get that ball!" at every opportunity… Get that Ball… Get that Ball. It was driving me crazy. Hell, lady…do you realize that's MY team down there somewhere…… but that was a fantasy………. I would be lynched. Anyway, it was my team that got the damn ball and slammed it through the hoop more times than Toyota. So there!

Incredibly we continued to win every match we played even beating the somewhat arrogant Addidas team from France that obviously thought that Addidas was a MUCH bigger brand than Nicholas Stoodley (true) and that their superior experience as a team (well, we had almost none) would allow them to crush us into the floor of the Araneta Coliseum. Tough Luck Addidas. No contest. We blitzed them and I stayed hemmed in by an increasingly irate crowd of "Let's kill Nicholas Stoodley" fans. I was the LUCK we needed. Actually I think it had more to do with the midnight party I had held for the team at my house, THAT was what created the team spirit - but I was still in disgrace for that episode.

The final was an out of world experience for me. I looked to my right and there was a huge scoreboard with my name, STOODLEY and to my left was another scoreboard with the name TOYOTA. Was I really THAT important? It didn't seem right somehow. What the hell did I know about the game – though I was learning more and more; it was just marketing and GOOD marketing at that. Suddenly my name was everywhere. Who WAS this enigmatic Englishman and his unknown team of American misfits that were sweeping through the opposition? I was even signing autographs! People were buying Nicholas Stoodley T-shirts at an incredible rate and production was running into three shifts. What had started out as a bit of a lark on the way back from Australia was now a fast expanding business. But was it still "a bit of a lark?" It was scary!

The famous "last two minutes" were almost the last two minutes of my life as the game hung in the balance. My heart raced as Larry Pounds, the star player (who also happened to be about nine feet tall which helped) basically propelled the ball through Toyota's hoop with the force of a thousand tons of TNT. A huge roar erupted and it was a roar of disappointment. Of revenge, of, "Let's kill STOODLEY!"

I was immediately surrounded by twenty security guards and hustled out of the cheap seats to the astounded stares of the Toyota supporters who never realized that the quiet Englishman with the racing heart was none other than their nemesis!Basically dragged down to the court with my feet hardly touching the ground I was pushed in front of the TV cameras and asked how I did it. God knows….what could I tell them? I can't even remember what inanities I proffered but I do remember trying to leave the Araneta Coliseum through the back entrance. They were waiting for me! Despite the many guards, rocks were smashed down on the roof of the car as others rocked the vehicle from side to side cursing the foreigner cowering in abject terror inside. "GO HOME" they cried. "You are not welcome here!" Yes, my team won but in many ways I felt as though I had also lost.

Previously: Chapter 6 - Basketball Fever Part One

Start from the beginning! Read: Chapter 1 - An English Virgin

Nicholas Stoodley was born near London and has lived at one time or another in the South of France, Rome, Sydney, Tagaytay, England, Paris and Manila with plans to move to Ibiza shortly. A former assistant to Valentino in Rome, he arrived in Manila in 1976 and pioneered Ready to Wear in the Philippines with the NICHOLAS STOODLEY brand of casual clothing. During his stay in the Philippines Nicholas also won the PBA Invitational Basketball Conference in 1980 with his team from Los Angeles, designed and manufactured a Stainless Steel Sports Utility Jeep that was featured in the Frankfurt Motor Show and opened "Skatetown", a Roller Disco with Jorge Araneta in Cubao. And that was just the first course!

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