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Davao’s new sports leaders

They both came from diverse backgrounds. One is a green-blooded La Sallite, the other a true-blue Atenean. But in the world they shared with passion, there are no barriers and no distinctions.

A decade ago, Dabawenyo sports enthusiasts Christopher Go and Glenn Escandor—both known within their families and close friends as “Bong”—teamed up for the first time in a basketball tournament.

Go was then executive assistant to then Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Escandor was his late father’s understudy of the family’s business empire that included a countrywide security agency and a luxury hotel.

From teammates on court, they became co-owners of a basketball team—The Royal Mandaya Hotel-City Mayor’s Office (TRMH-CMO) which would later become the most dominant local basketball franchise in the Davao City hoopdom.

The TRMH-CMO outfit has been represented in tournaments by UAAP schools De La Salle University and Far Eastern University and NCAA’s San Beda.

“We just plain love basketball and we are deeply passionate about it,” said Go, who never misses playing basketball as a break from his very hectic schedule as the President’s closest aide.

Despite the rigors of his work, Go remains to be a deadshot from the three-point distance whenever he plays.

Escandor, for his part, also built his own private gym facility – the Genesis 88 Gym – and sponsored basketball tournaments like the annual Royal Mandaya Hotel Cup and the Col. Emilio Escandor Memorial basketball tournament.

When Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) regional director Regino “Boy” Cua passed away last year, Escandor was picked to become his successor. He was later elected as member of the SBP Board of Trustee.

Aside from being a full-time CEO of the Escandor business empire in Davao City, he also spends time organizing upgrade programs for basketball referees and coaches, and strengthened basketball development for public high schools.

The two friends never realized that one day they’s become the President’s men— Go as member of the Cabinet and Escandor as Presidential Assistant for Sports (serving the government pro bono).

It was not only in the basketball court that the two teamed up. They also were instrumental in developing sports in Davao City. As in-charge of the sports development office, Go had the former dilapidated Almendras Gym refurbished into a facility that the Asean Basketball League (ABL) is now playing. The complete makeover also made the 5,000-seat facility a viable venue for conventions and major city indoor events.