Words and Photos by Winston Baltasar
In July of 2016, I shot the Olympic Qualifying Trials (Basketball) for Sports5. On the first day of the games, when Tristan Thompson of Canada (and the then NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers) posterized the Turkish center, I was there to capture the moment.
Tristan posted my photo on his Instagram page. It garnered tens of thousands of positive reactions on social media but I’m just happy to have been in the right place at the right time.
On a somber note, a few days before the games, a bomb exploded in Turkey’s airport. In the pre-game vs. Gilas Pilipinas, the Turkish team was a picture of sadness when their national anthem was played. Our thoughts went to the people who died and were gravely wounded in this tragedy.
After the Turkish National Anthem was played, it was time for Lupang Hinirang. The poignant sadness of the Turkish Team carried over to Gilas Pilipinas.
The games were highly entertaining, nevertheless. The Philippines is still Basketball Country after all. One of my favorite shots is of spitfire Terrence Romeo flashing past the much taller French player. Boris Diaw, of the San Antonio Spurs, in the background with his mouth open is a bonus.
But all good things must pass. After a week with some of the best basketball players in the world, France beat Canada to win the qualifying tournament, which got them a ticket to play in the 2016 Rio Olympics.
The photo below was difficult to shoot as there was a phalanx of photographers in between the French team and me, since I had just come from the press room to send photos to my editor. I had to crawl on my hands and knees between the legs of the photographers, carrying the heavy (but fantabulous) Canon 1DX Mark II camera and an equally heavy 70-200mm lens attached it.
I saw a window of opportunity between someone’s knees and someone else’s thigh when the colored confetti flew. Tony Parker turned towards my camera with a smile and the rest is history.
Bonus are two more NBA players in the frame, Nic Batum and the ubiquitous Boris Diaw.
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