Beyond the Sport: Stories behind the numbers

By: Jonash Dannug
August 08, 2017

There’s always a story behind the numbers your favorite players wear on their backs. It’s either inspired by a famous sports icon, a significant date to recall in their lives, or simply a symbol of their faith in superstitions. 

Jersey numbers have been a constant part of an athlete’s life. It may be mere numbers for others; for them it’s more than just that. The numbers are reminders of who they are as athletes, representing their identities as they go through their respective careers. 
Let’s take a look at the stories behind the numbers our athletes wear. 

1. Jeo Ambohot, Basketball 
Position: Center 
Jersey number: 18 

The lanky big man out of Compostela Valley has been wearing number 18 since his high school days in New Bataan National High School when he was still part of the volleyball team in 2013. Like most players, Jeo picked the number simply because it’s the closest to his heart. 
“Yan ‘yung date na ipinanganak ako, September 18,” he said. 

He was recruited by Arellano University from New Bataan to play basketball and started his college career as part of its Team B. Ambohot then transferred to Letran in 2015 and debuted in NCAA’s season 92 for the Knights with number 18 still on his back. 

Picking 18 was also an easy choice for Jeo because his parents also preferred it. “Gusto din talaga ni mama tsaka papa ‘yung number na ‘yan kaya ’yan ‘yung pinili ko,” said the Knights’ starting center. 

2. Manuela Mariel Larioque, Women’s Volleyball 
Position: Libero 
Jersey number: 11 

Mariel Larioque wore jersey number 16 in her first two seasons with the Lady Knights. But after she met her significant other, the couple vowed to use number 11 ever since to commemorate their anniversary. 

“I chose number 11 kasi monthsary namin ‘yun ng boyfriend ko and napag-usapan na namin ‘yun, na dapat both our jersey numbers should be 11,” said Larioque. 

Larioque gives importance to her number as much as any athlete does because it somehow becomes part of her individuality. “Ang sarap kaya maglaro lalo na kung gustong-gusto mo talaga ‘yung number na dala-dala mo,” she added. 

3. Christian Balagasay, Basketball 
Position: Center 
Jersey number: 15 

Christian Balgasay has been a steady back-up center for the Knights. He has been grabbing rebounds and providing steady defense off the bench since Letran’s championship run in 2015. However, little did we know that his game and his jersey number are completely patterned to his PBA idol. 

“Dahil kay Marc Pingris, isa kasi siya sa mga idol ko,” said Balagasay. 

For him, jersey numbers play a vital role in a player’s career and popularity for it resembles a unique image of the player himself. “Yung pangalan kasi parang madaling makalimutan, pero ‘yung number hindi,” he emphasized. 

4. Johnsen Timbreza, Men’s Volleyball 
Position: Libero 
Jersey number: 8 

Johnsen Timbreza had an unfortunate case of choosing his jersey number. During his first stint with the Knights, he planned on choosing jersey number 5 in resemblance to his volleyball idol Melissa Gohing of La Salle. 

However, before the start of the season, Timbreza received not-so-good news. “Di na daw pwede yung number 5 kasi meron na pong nakakuha, senior ko daw,” said Timbreza. 

Luckily, number 8 was still available. It just happened that it was his other idol’s jersey number -- Ella De Jesus of Ateneo. “Number din siya ng idol ko from Ateneo so feel ko hanggang grumaduate na ako I will still wear that jersey number,” he said. 

5. Christian Paul Pamulaklakin, Basketball 
Position: Center 
Jersey number: 5 

Christian wore number 8 at the start of his basketball career to pay tribute to his birthday. But after his son was born, things changed for the 6-foot-6 slot man out of Malabon. “Birthday ng anak ko, March 5,” he revealed. 

Unlike other players, however, numbers are not that important for Pamulaklakin. It’s the name in front of his chest that really matters the most when on the court. “Hindi naman gaanong importante ‘yung number, mas importante ‘yung nakalagay sa harap -- Letran,” said Pamulaklakin.