By Rommel Conclara, ABS-CBN North America Bureau
OAKLAND, Calif. – Like countless times before, on stages around the world, Kapamilya star Martin Nievera sang to the delight of thousands of fans at Oracle Arena.
With his well-received rendition of the U.S. national anthem Nievera kicked off the second Filipino Heritage Night hosted by the Golden State Warriors as they defeated the Milwaukee Bucks 117-92 on Saturday night.
And for Nievera, the moment was even more special because of his Bay Area roots.
“It’s an honor to sing anyone’s anthem and to be sing it in your hometown, this is my hometown the Bay Area, but more than anything to be able to let the Filipinos, through my voice, thank the Warriors for honoring Filipinos on Filipino Heritage Week,” said Nievera. “This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ by having a Filipino sing the national anthem.”
ABS-CBN Foundation International was also recognized on the court with the “Community Champion” award presented by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, the first and only Filipino-American elected to the California legislature.
“It was a very proud moment for me to be on the floor tonight to present the award to Jerry Bennett for his tremendous work with ABS-CBN Foundation International and the great work that they’re doing and that’s what’s important,” said Bonta. “The Warriors are providing a platform to share the great work of so many wonderful Filipino-American leaders throughout the state.”
Like in previous Filipino heritage nights, the Warriors wore black Filipino themed shooting shirts throughout the game.
And as part of the celebration of Filipino Heritage Night, the Warriors have Filipino themes socks for those who purchased tonight’s special events tickets.
Fans were not the only ones to receive special apparel during Saturday’s game.
Raymond Townsend, the first Filipino-American to play in the NBA and was drafted by the Warriors in 1978 and played for the organization for two years, received an official 2017 Warriors jersey with his name and number.
“I’m very grateful that they even honored me this evening here at the Warriors arena and at the game tonight to celebrate our heritage,” said Townsend. “I’m very grateful I have a jersey and back in the day they kept our jerseys. They should have gave it to us but someone has my jersey somewhere.”
The Warriors have already clinched the 2016-2017 Pacific Division Title as they enter the playoffs and, according to many sports analysis, will eventually meet Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers for a finals rematch.