LOS ANGELES: Last week, I wrote about the basketball going-on in Las Vegas, which included an all-Asian tournament where the visiting San Beda Red Lions team participated in. The 19-time NCAA champs swept their three elimination round games but fell short in the semis against a resilient team from Salt Lake City that unloaded ten triples to carve out a five-point victory. Among the visitors in the tournament is a successful sports and talent agent in the US, who represents such celebrated athletes and entertainers as 2001 National Football League (NFL) fifth overall draft pick LaDanian Tomlinson, Tennessee Titan’s Eugene Amano, who is one of three NFL players born in the Philippines, NFL veteran Nick Novak of the Houston Texans, former NFL All-American Quentin Jammer, 2000 Major League Baseball (MLB) top overall pick Adrian Gonzales, and prominent Filipino talents Treat Huey, a world-ranked tennis player, mixed martial arts (MMA) and Bellator contender AJ “Filipino Punisher” Matthews, and former American Idol finalist Jessica Sanchez.
Bo Navarro is a native of Samal, Bataan but is now among the top talent managers in the States. His ProLine Image company handles several elite athletes, someof whom have Filipino roots. Formerly working with the San Diego Chargers NFL squad, Navarro decided to put up his own talent management firm a few years ago, initially to help San Diego-based talents. Among ProLine’s first clients were Tomlison and former three-time light-middleweight boxing champion “Terrible” Terry Norris. Soon, the company grew to represent various clients from the NFL, MLB, U.S. National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), PGA, NASCAR, Golden Boy, Top Rank and UFC.
Navarro revealed that ProLine Image intends to expand its business to the Philippines, where he saw great potential. “What we as a nation needs to do is take a step back and create programs that caters to all, and not just the privileged. In addition to our business, one of my personal goals for our country is to create such a program,” said Navarro.
ProLine Image set up its Mandaluyong office last year to start its Philippine operations. “Our plan(in the Philippines) is to establish a trusted firm that shows results for our clients. Our motto is ‘we are only successful if we make you successful’,” added Navarro.
In the Las Vegas tournament, Navarro was able to spot potential clients. He believes that the United States is home to a huge number of proficient Filipino basketball athletes that can have a bright future in the Philippines. ProLine aims to bring in its first batch of U.S.-based talents by next year.
Navarro has always been passionate about sports being a former standout athlete himself. He played four years of Division 1 tennis for the University of Massachusetts and won the New England Championship plum in 1996. He is also the Executive Director of the Quentin Jammer Family Foundation, which was able to raise funds of up to $ 1.2 million that was used to build a new football and track stadium for the youth. As a hobby, Navarro also teaches at the Gonzales Sports Academy in Chula Vista, California.
Navarro left Bataan for the US when he was just seven years old after his mother Lilian started working in San Diego as a nurse. But now, he hopes to reconnect with his homeland through sports. “Tennis allowed me to get a great education and I feel a sense of responsibility to give back to the sport that has given me so much. One of my lifetime goals is to build a tennis complex in our province where kids can play for free. I am a true believer that sports can provide opportunities for the youth.”
ProLine Image should be a welcome addition to the local basketball scene, even as it also seeks to cover other growing sports in the country like volleyball, MMA and boxing.
“What we want to bring to the country are professionalism and empowerment of athletes. Although I have lived in the United States for the past 30 plus years, I am still a Filipino. God willing, I hope we are able to set an example and create a new trend in the Philippine sports scene.”