With basketball being an intense sport, both pro and college athletes have created pre-game rituals to psych themselves up for the ebbs and flows of the game. Steph Curry would sprint up and down the court. Kevin Garnett would bump his head on the foamy base of the hoop.
Some believe in superstition, like Dwyane Wade, who would do 3 hoop pull-ups, chew 3 pieces of gum, and drink 3 bottles of Gatorade to match his jersey number #3. Jason Terry would wear the opposing team’s shorts to bed. And Lebron James would do the powder toss to channel Michael Jordan’s greatness, apparently?
Others like Klay Thompson go for something simpler: music. The four-time NBA champion would play classical music and nature sounds to break a slump or to calm himself amidst the chaos of the playoffs.
“I try playing classical [music] on Pandora or some nature sounds. I can’t listen to rap or hip hop while I do it because I get distracted,” said Thompson to Mercury News. “It’s something pleasant in the background. It’s nice. It’s a challenge and much harder than working out. I got my mind racing. It’s good practice for me.”
Like Klay, our favorite college athletes from the UAAP and NCAA have playlists to get themselves into the game-day mood. So we caught up with ballers to share what they play before stepping on the hardwood.
Kai Ballungay, Ateneo Blue Eagles
Playlist: Normal Girl – Bryson Tiller, Never Was Wrong – Blxst, The Color Violet – Tory Lanez
The UAAP champ likes to carry a chill and laid-back mood before games. And no other genre is perfect for that type of vibe than the relaxing sound of rhythm & blues.
Additionally, Ballungay praised American rapper and fellow Californian Blxst, one of his favorite artists.
“I see [Blxst] becoming popular among Filipinos in California (where I’m from), particularly in the Bay Area and L.A. That song [Never Was Wrong] is my fave,” Ballungay shared.
Kurt Reyson, Letran Knights
Playlist: What A Beautiful Name – Hillsong Worship, See A Victory – Elevation Worship, Die For You – Joji
Reyson is an avid fan of worship music. The three-time NCAA champion says that listening to the uplifting tune before games constantly remind him that he is performing for God.
“Nakakarelax lang and nagreremind sa akin na kahit sinong kalaban sa court, kakayanin kasi kasama [ko] si Lord sa bawat laro,” he said. Reyson also listens to Joji, saying that the R&B singer’s calming voice helps him play smoothly.
Ben Philips III, La Salle Green Archers
Playlist: In A Sentimental Mood – Duke Ellington, John Coltrane, Liberian Girl – Michael Jackson, Panalangin – Apo Hiking Society
Just like his pre-game drips, Philips’ music taste is straight classy. The one-half of the Philips siblings, Ben is into old-school music ranging from ‘30s jazz to ‘80s pop.
Unlike most guys on the list, Philips doesn’t listen to rap music as much, as he wants to be calm and collected once he steps onto the basketball court with his fellow college athletes.
Jacob Cortez, San Beda Red Lions
Playlist: Flashing Lights – Kanye West, Feel The Fiyaaaah – Metro Boomin, A$AP Rocky, Repeat – Al James
A hip-hop stan, the Cool Cub even has the Dropout Bear inked to pay homage to his late cousin Tyson Odum who was also a massive fan of Kanye West’s Graduation album.
“I got it so that he’s always with me in my career and my whole life,” he shared.
Nic Cabanero, UST Growling Tigers
Playlist: Just Wanna Rock – Lil Uzi Vert, Under The Influence – Chris Brown, Any BTS and TWICE songs.
Nic Cabanero probably has the broadest music taste on this list. The Growling Tiger has a wide range of music tastes ranging from rap and R&B to K-pop.
“I just really love their songs kahit wala ako maintindihan. I really love Korea lang hehe.”
Nic being an avid fan of Korean culture is no secret, given that he has tweeted his desire to transfer to Korea for… reasons.
Sana korea nlng para makita ko mga Kpop Girls dun haha baka majowa ko pa 😝— Nicael Cabanero 🇵🇭 (@NicaelCabanero9) December 20, 2022
Ry Dela Rosa, JRU Heavy Bombers
@_rydelarosa11 How I’m moving all throughout 2023 🤘🏽 #HNY #griddygobbler ♬ Nevada – YoungBoy Never Broke Again
Playlist: Nevada – Youngboy Never Broke Again, Forever Humble – Blxst, When I See U – Fantasia
Dela Rosa has been a fan of rap and R&B all his life, two genres that best describe his personality and the vibe he aims to bring before games.
“They get me dancing, singing, and grooving before a game. Helps me feel relaxed and allows me to be myself,” said Dela Rosa.
Steve Nash Enriquez, NU Bulldogs
Steve Nash Enriquez – NU Bulldogs
Playlist: Oceans – Hillsong United, Still – Hillsong Worship, Bisag Asa – Midnasty
This flashy point guard from Sampaloc is in love with gospel music. Enriquez, though, has a more profound pre-game ritual where he likes to be alone in an empty room and give praise.
“Before game, every gising ko, pumupunta ako sa bakanteng room dito sa dorm para mag pa music ng worship songs,” shared Enriquez.
Dani Mallari, AU Chiefs
Playlist: No Role Modelz – J. Cole, Higa – Arthur Nery, Habang Buhay – Zack Tabudlo
Another unique taste in this list is Dani Mallari. The Chief enjoys a wide selection of music, from American hip-hop to OPM love songs. According to the Filipino-Australian, this combination of genres makes him comfortable and relaxed.
Even though he grew up in Australia, Mallari says he is also a huge fan of Filipino music. “I love OPM. That’s what I listen to every time.”
Patrick Sleat, FEU Tamaraws
Playlist: I Wonder – Kanye West, On BS – Drake, 21 Savage, Hit Em Up – 2Pac
For Sleat, he considers Kanye, Drake, and 2Pac as the GOATS of the genre. The Filipino-British baller also shared that he feels extra motivated whenever he listens to Kanye West’s I Wonder, stating that West’s music is superior and “different.”
Migs Oczon, Benilde Blazers
Playlist: Money Trees – Kendrick Lamar ft. Jay Rock, Wow Freestyle – Jay Rock ft. Kendrick Lamar, I Made It – Kevin Rudolf
Music is what makes Oczon in the zone. The Blazers star, who consistently ranks as one of the highest-scoring college athletes in the country, loves listening to both Kendrick Lamar and Jay Rock because it gets him to his flow.
With words by: Gelo Lasin