Retro jerseys in demand

SPORTING CHANCE - Joaquin M. Henson - The Philippine Star

Two enterprising basketball junkies are making a business out of their passion for collecting jerseys. Brothers Alvin and Andrew Tan recently signed a three-year contract with the PBA to manufacture and sell retro uniforms through a licensing agreement. The throwback jerseys will be unveiled at the 3 p.m. opening of the PBA Christmas celebrity bazaar this Saturday in the Midtown wing of Robinsons Ermita where the league holds its annual draft.

The Tans are self-confessed frustrated players. They weren’t good enough to play organized ball so the brothers did the next best thing – they imagined playing like their hardcourt heroes in  uniform. “We wanted to feel what it’s like wearing a jersey,” said Alvin, 28, a La Salle marketing major. “Our father Henry is a big basketball fan and he influenced our love for the game.” Andrew, 26, is a College of St. Benilde multi-media arts graduate and became a serious collector in 2003, starting with a LeBron James replica jersey. Together, they own over 1,000 basketball jerseys of NBA, PBA and UAAP players.

Alvin’s prized possession is a Tracy McGrady-autographed Houston Rockets jersey he paid P10,000 for in a fund-raiser organized by former PBA cager Rob Johnson for Eugene Tejada whose career was cut short by a paralyzing fall during a game. Andrew said his favorites are a Michael Jordan authentic jersey made by SandKnit (he paid a bargain $100 for it on ebay) and a Penny Hardaway-autographed Orlando Magic jersey (P2,000 from a collector – it now has a tag price of at least $300 on ebay).

Last year, the Tans signed an exclusive distributorship deal with the PBA to sell 500 retro jerseys of the top 25 players of all-time. They made the jerseys available through the internet (jerseyhaven.com.ph) and Titan at the Fort. “The jerseys weren’t exactly throwback-authentic,” said Alvin. “We had no hand in manufacturing, all we did was to sell the jerseys. They came only in one size so the market was limited. Collectors didn’t like the product because the jerseys were made of shiny material, not the same fabric of before.”

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This time, the Tans took over the manufacturing line. “We want to be known as the Mitchell and Ness of the PBA,” said Alvin, referring to the NBA’s official throwback jersey maker. “Our retro jerseys use only imported materials. The details are precise. Every jersey we produce is like a collector’s item.”

The Tans got their feet wet in the production side when they supplied the uniforms for the PBA Legends who played the visiting NBA Legends, led by Scottie Pippen and Dennis Rodman, this year. They also provided the Air 21 uniforms in the last Governors Cup. This season, the Tans got the contract to make the Air 21 jerseys under the brand name Grosby.

Aside from the PBA retro jerseys, the Tans own the exclusive rights to market Nike apparel for La Salle and Ateneo through their website. Jackets, shirts and jerseys are available in green and blue. What’s more, they can personalize each jersey with a prescribed name and number for P1,995 – the same price for an Ateneo or La Salle jersey in a Nike store.

The PBA retro jerseys will retail for P1,500 each with sizes from small to XL.  “We’re starting with 16 jerseys,” said Andrew. “Eventually, we’ll do more. We’re now studying the possibility of producing an MVP line with jerseys of the PBA MVPs, the 1998 Centennial Team line, a Rookie of the Year line, the Grand Slam line and the All-Star line. The possibilities are endless. This is a collector’s dream come true.”

The 16 retro jerseys are No. 16 for Alvin Patrimonio with Purefoods (light and dark jerseys), No. 7 for Robert Jaworski with Toyota (light and dark jerseys), No. 14 for Johnny Abarrientos with Alaska (grand slam design), No. 9 for Samboy Lim with Magnolia Ice Cream, No. 18 for Philip Cezar with Crispa, No. 6 for Atoy Co with Crispa, No. 1 for Bal David with Ginebra San Miguel, No. 23 for Ricardo Brown with Great Taste, No. 18 for Vergel Meneses with Swift, No. 8 for Allan Caidic with Presto Ice Cream, No. 17 for Olsen Racela with Purefoods Tender Juicy Hot Dogs, No. 19 for Kenneth Duremdes with Sunkist, No. 19 for Ramon Fernandez with Tanduay and No. 8 for Francis Arnaiz with Toyota.

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Five mannequins will be outfitted with retro jerseys in the booth that the PBA will inaugurate on Saturday. There will be other PBA merchandise on sale in the bazaar  but the highlight products are the retro jerseys.

“When we were growing up, we collected game-worn jerseys of our favorite players like Patrimonio, (Benjie) Paras and (Noli) Locsin,” said Andrew. “After graduation, we thought of transforming our hobby into a business. We plan to market the retro jerseys to fathers and sons, Filipinos overseas, fans who want to relive the old glory days and travelers who could give the jerseys as pasalubongs. We’re looking into marketing arrangements with Filipinos in Australia, Dubai and other places where former PBA stars are invited to play in exhibitions. There is a big demand for PBA Legends to visit overseas Filipinos and we think the retro jerseys are a perfect complement to the promotion.”

Alvin said classic PBA games are being shown on the Pinoy Extreme channel 84 in the Global Destiny cable network and they’ll likely enter into an agreement to put spot ads in the show.  The brothers also produce the Chinoy TV program aired on net25 every Sunday, 10:30-11:30 a.m. with replays on Tuesday 11 p.m. and Saturday 10:30 a.m. The Filipino-Chinese lifestyle magazine series has featured Chinoy hoop icons Atoy Co, Chris Tiu, T. Y. Tang and Lim Eng Beng.   

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