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From the men who walk the streets of Manila in basketball jerseys to the presence of basketball courts in almost every town, the Philippines’ love for basketball is undeniable. With the NBA featuring the world’s best players, it was easy for Filipinos to gravitate towards the league and its fast-paced action. Watching NBA basketball has since become a national pastime, whether it’s at home with their families or at their workplaces with their colleagues.
With the league in the middle of another season, fans are once again looking to see which players will shine brightest and which team will end up lifting the Larry O’Brien trophy. And if there’s one thing that goes well with watching the world’s best basketball players face each other, it’s enjoying a drink, whether by yourself or with friends. To make the experience even more enjoyable, here are some spirits and wines that you can pair when watching some of the NBA’s best on the court:
While it is former Los Angeles Lakers great Kobe Bryant who earned the nickname “vino” during his playing days, current Lakers superstar LeBron James has also aged like fine wine and continues to play at a high level in Year 18. James also happens to be one of the NBA’s biggest wine enthusiasts, and his love for cabernet and cabernet-based blends is no secret.
Photo from Barefoot Wines PH
The Barefoot Cabernet Sauvignon, which is bursting with flavors of raspberry and blackberry jam, is another wine that should be to the King’s liking. Even its purple bottle and label goes well with the Lakers’ iconic Purple and Gold jerseys worn by James and his teammates. This blend can be paired with almost any occasion, be it a backyard barbecue or beach party. Similarly, throughout his career that includes four championships and four MVPs, James’ style of play seems to go with almost every teammate, from Dwyane Wade in Miami to Kyrie Irving in Cleveland to Anthony Davis in Los Angeles.
2. Johnnie Walker Double Black 1L - Damian Lillard
Photo from @JohnnieWalkerUS
The Johnnie Walker Double Black is considered as the rebellious younger sibling of the Johnnie Walker Black Label, but with a “deep, brooding, intensity.” It is a full-bodied whisky with an intense smoky character and layers of spice and has a rich peat with dried fruits and creamy vanilla. No player in the NBA better embodies the Double Black’s intense, smoky character than Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard.
A six-time All-Star, Lillard may be an undersized guard and underdog, but he is capable of scoring against the strongest defenses. Whether it’s smoking helpless defenders on a drive to the basket or firing and making shots from long distances, Dame Time is one of the NBA’s best, especially when the clock is winding down and the game hands in the balance.
3. Asti Martini 750ml - Steph Curry
Photo from @Martini
Made from the finest Moscato Bianco grapes grown in Italy, the Asti Martini is a sweet, low-alcohol sparkling wine. It is fresh, fruity, highly aromatic, and goes well with desserts, pastry, and ice cream. A wine that can be paired with different varieties of food seems like a match for Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry, who plays in a way that almost any type of basketball fan can appreciate.
Whether it’s slicing to the rim for lay-ups or launching and making 30-footers with ease, Curry’s unlimited range has changed the way the sport is played. The three-time champion and two-time MVP has amassed a huge fan base and has made every Warriors game into must-see TV.
There are few players who seem to enjoy being on the court playing NBA basketball than Milwaukee Bucks big man Giannis Antetokounmpo. Since joining the league in 2013, the Greek Freak has grown to become a two-time Most Valuable Player and Defensive Player of the Year. And whether it’s dunking on opponents, or answering postgame interviews, he usually does it with a smile on his face.
Photo from @CuervoPilipinas
The Jose Cuervo Gold, which is made from a blend of reposed and younger tequilas, seems like a perfect pairing for the reigning MVP’s sunny disposition. With a bright medium yellow-gold color and aromas of freshly ground peppercorn, spice, and orange peel, this tequila matches Antetokoumnpo’s love for the game, and his joyful self on and off the court.
5. Yellow Tail Moscato 750ml - Luka Doncic
Photo from Yellow Tail
The Yellow Tail Moscato is made from grapes harvested in the cool of night to ensure freshness and rich flavor. Its meticulous process includes free-run juice and light pressings, ensuring the wine’s softness on the palate. Upon completion, it is also cold stabilized and cold filtered to maintain freshness and rich aromas.
Since arriving in the NBA three seasons ago, Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic rose to become one of the league’s best players and an MVP candidate. Doncic may not be the biggest or most athletic player among his peers, but he plays beyond his years, and remains cool, calm, and collected even in the biggest moments. And at just 22 years old, the Mavericks’ fresh-faced star can still reach greater heights in his young career.
6. Absolut Blue 1L - Kevin Durant
Photo from @AbsolutVodka
Known as the world’s largest locally produced vodka, Absolut Blue is characterized as being clean and crisp with hints of citrus on the nose. It is an instantly recognizable brand that is rich, full-bloodied, and complex yet served smooth and mellow on the palate. Similarly, Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant boasts of a game that is both smooth and clean, and is one of the most recognizable players in the world.
With a clean-looking jump shot, Durant has become one of the most devastating scorers the NBA has seen. His height and quickness allows him to move smoothly on the court and evade defenders with ease. And as a two-time champion and two-time Finals MVP during his time with the Warriors, KD is an established player and has proven himself just like the Swedish vodka brand that evokes comparisons to his style of play.
With the NBA playoffs just around the corner, expect to see more of these players in action as they try to lead their teams to the championship. And while you’re at it, there’s no better way to enjoy NBA basketball than while sharing a glass of your favorite wine or spirit, whether by yourself or in the company of your friends.