I don’t know if you’ll agree, pero look at these pics…
1. Aga and JL = magkapatid kaya sila? O magkaparehong tao??? Mag-ama?
2. PIOLO and GOMA = mag-ama?
Fine. If hindi kayo ma-conspiracy theory, baka ganito paliwanag:
Archetypes. (See: Jung)
There are certain motifs, certain characters na inuulit-ulit natin throughout literature and life – and the Boy Next Door and Macho Lover are some of them. Richard did Macho Lover for his generation. Piolo’s doing it for his. It’s possible lang naman na pareho ang molde na hinahanap natin sa Macho Lover natin. The bigger question is what does that say about us? Ang susunod din bang macho lover, ganun din ang molde? Same for Aga and JLC. Eto mas malapit ang pagkakahawig. And mas magkahawig din ang roles. Romantic boy next door na maraming pelikulang pamagat ng kanta ang pamagat.
O mas masaya bang isiping magkapatid o mag-ama sila? O na parehong tao lang sila?
Technical fouls for profanity. For the middle finger. For directly fighting a player of the opposing team. For lashing out against the officiating. Getting banned from semifinal games. Calling out coaches of opposing teams. For another profanity. Another suspension. The commissioner has even called him “unbecoming” of a coach.
You can say he’s SPG. Or even Rated R. You can say he’s a bad example to our young. You can say he’s one of the most polarising figures in Philippine Basketball. But you can’t argue with the results. And even the love of his players.
If you look at Wikipedia, he has 6 championships with three teams: Swift, Red Bull and Rain or Shine.
If you look at the sidelines, yes, he’s the bald coach with arms folded, eyes focused, with fire running in his veins. He has also coached the National Team, and he has made champions out of teams that aren’t necessarily stars or the most athletically gifted of the lot.
So whether you like him or hate him, his style works. And somehow, some players respond tho this style. And even fans. Maybe on a cultural level, he represents us.
Here’s why he works.
Basketball, despite being more accessible now to ladies, is still dominantly and even decidedly masculine. It’s played by boys. A lot of rules are built for boys. Coaches, locker rooms, venues, and language is still boy-skewed (which reveals a lot, I guess, why it’s still immature in some respects).
The Guiao approach appeals to this. His language, metaphors, and demeanor are very machismo-inspired, which his players – usually macho-mentality-inspired, too – appreciate.
“I will go to war with these men.”
During the Red Bull days. That’s some Braveheart Stuff.
““Even in their body language, even in the way they carry themselves. Never show me that you are going to give up anything in this series, even if we’re down 1-3. Pag pinakita nila sa akin yun, sabi ko, ‘tatapusin ko yung career nila dito (in the PBA).
“There are no ready-made superstars in this team.”
Clear on no special treatments.
He seems to talk to them in a way which we colloquialize as “Usapang Lalaki.” You know it’s straightforward. You know he means no nonsense. And you know he means business. We will win. Or we all die. It’s as simple as that.
And he keeps it simple, too.
It’s almost kanto-ball every night. Sure he knows his X’s and Os and his back-cuts and screens. But at the end of the play, he’s going to make sure that you fought hard over the screen, or make sure that your head wasn’t somewhere else, or that you played defense like a man. Wesley Gonzales and Paolo Bugia, his former players, tweeted some motivational quotes from Coach Yeng. Here’s an example:
Doesn’t it remind you of other coaching greats which aren’t necessarily society-conformists, or sometimes even called assholes? Like Bobby Knight, and even Gregg Popovich.
2. Ginebra-ism lives.
Speaking of reminding you of other coaches, doesn’t his “never say die” attitude remind you of the Big J? I know some Ginebra fans might be cringing a bit here, but look at this piece in the Bulletin that came out this week:
“I told them not to show any signs that they’re no longer going to put up a fight, that they’re giving up,” – BULLETIN
He has this knack for transforming a group of almost ragtag players who aren’t the most athletically gifted, into a swashbuckling and even powerhouse contender. Everywhere he goes, he makes winners. Underdogs into fighting dogs.
And because he has this spirit, and because the Pinoys always love the underdog, the inapi, the kinawawa, the achiever despite the odds, he has a place in our hearts. Albeit secretly for some.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Jawo shows up at the Rain or Shine locker room at halftime, too.
3. He is passion unsheathed.
Okay. Some say his style is too physical. Some say his players get away with too much. This accusation, though, is old hat. It’s been called of Jawo. And hey, that’s what rules are for. If he really goes too much, then shouldn’t we change the rules? So I guess so far, he goes within the boundary of the rules – as far as he could take them.
But I guess this physicality, this almost lion-like approach to the game comes from a heart that just wants to play this game with fire.
Yeng Guiao, like most of us, also wears his heart on his sleeve. His passion for the game and for winning is never guarded under pretences of coolness or control. He’s not only what you see is what you get. He makes you see he’s fired up, too.
And being Pinoy, is there any other way to play?
These are just some reasons why his players love him. Even Big Beau Belga, who professed such when Rain or Shine defeated Petron Blaze in the semis. This was after the game Yeng Guiao wasn’t allowed to go to because of a suspension. Even if Belga gets his share of fire and brimstone from his coach. I don’t know about you, but when you get a guy like Belga to even like you, I think you’re probably doing something right.
“Naglaro kami ng ganyan para sayo, coach, kasi mahal ka namin” - Beau Belga to Yeng Guiao
My hunch is that the cameras aren’t ready just for the game and the acrobatic plays, but for the antics and drama on the sidelines. These are usually supplied by the coaches. The people who are quick to give credit to their boys when they win, but they man up to own the losses. It’s a thankless job. In a country where every citizen thinks he’s a coach, the pressure is immense. But every now and then, we get to see their human side.
They add colour to the game. And because we play this game with a lot more passion than we probably ought, it’s no wonder that these guys wear their team’s hearts on their sleeves.
So here’s an anger scale. Next time something pisses you off, think. Just how how angry are you? What should you do about it? It’s not a personality test, mind you. The answer can definitely change depending on the situation.
If it’s not yet clear, I don’t mean any harm or disrespect. :-)
Well, in any case, if you’re angry, and you feel that one of the descriptions match your current state — check out what to do, or what kind of friends you should have around you.
Angry? What’s that?
Ryan Gregorio / Gee Abanilla
You think you’re angry, but you still look like a nice guy.
“Hey come on. Call a technical on me, ref.”
REF: “Galit na kayo coach? Ang cute niyo palang magalit.”
You’re growling, you’re seething, you’re scowling
sometimes you’re shouting
but once you talk it through with the people you’re working with, your voice is cold as steel.
You’ll be fine.
You’re probably doing something crazy on the bench.
You’ll have a verbose endgame chat with the reporters.
At least you’re the best dressed man who’s doing all of that.
You’re probably doing something crazy on the bench, and you want the camera to see it.
From the Jaworski school of “kawawa naman kami!”
Like motioning the “kill” gesture with your hand going across your neck.
Just go back to your “puso” figures of speech, and make sure you calm down that “puso” kasi baka high blood na yan.
You’ll still be waving your hands in the air three to four plays after. Or even after a timeout. Even when the referee himself has forgotten what you’re complaining about.
And you’ll be bright pink in the face, too. Mestiso, eh.
Get a good assistant like Dickie Bachman or Joel Banal who are bigger than you to calm you down. Or a cool customer like The Jet.
Let’s just say you might have been the cause of the PBA’s MTRCB rating of PG.
From daring the referee to throw you out to getting suspended from crucial games for using the wrong finger to point – name it, you can do it once you’re angry.
Just make sure your team has good players willing to fight for you. (Beau Belga: “We did this for you coach!”) A management that understands. And a hundred thousand pesos every time this happens.
I keep thinking, though, that somewhere, Gregg Poppovich might just be laughing at all this.
I got to watch a dad and his two sons splashing around in the swimming pool. I couldn’t help but overhear their conversation. It turned out, the father wanted the kids to learn more than just splash around. He was trying to tell son number one (for purposes of discussion, let’s just call him son number one, okay?) to finally get off the steps at the shallow end and jump into his waiting arms (or one arm. The other son was in his other arm).
“Jump! Jump!” he told his son.
It’s an all too familiar metaphor for faith. The father urging the son to jump. To let go. As Wicked popularized, to close one’s eyes and leap. We’ve probably heard it said and preached. You’ve probably heard your retreat master use it as the ending to his rousing sermon. We’ve probably used it ourselves when trying to convey a point.
While the metaphor is clear and relatable (warm and homey, even), how it applies to real life is always tougher. Maybe it’s because we see the Father (God in the Metaphor) as someone who has not jumped from the shallow end to the scary, deeper end that might be filled with monsters (when you’re a kid, every dark and un unexplored place has monsters. Well, when you grow up, I guess that doesn’t stop). That the Father figure never had to doubt his ability to hold his breath. To ask survival questions like “will I rise again?” Or “What if I jump too far from the gutter? Can I still make it back?” He, after all, is omnipotent.
The kid in the pool probably saw his dad as pretty omnipotent, too (We usually see dads and moms as God until we mature enough to be more merciful). He was, after all, chest and head above the water. His footing was most probably secure on the pool’s bottom. Heck, maybe dad even owned the pool! (The pool was public space.)
Did he lack faith? I asked myself that question as I tried to cheer the kid on through telepathy. Come on kid. Dad won’t drop you. He’ll die first before he’ll let anything happen to you. I’m sure the kid knew the dad loved him. He was smiling. He wanted to please his dad. But he was struggling between his fear and his love. Much like most of us.
Then the other brother leapt from his dad’s arm, back to the gutter. This other brother said, “Come on.” Then this other brother leapt again, this time, back to his dad’s arms. The dad said, “O, your brother did it!” Then after a while, he jumped. I knew he did, because I found him on the other side of the pool to continue his training later on.
That was probably a more accurate metaphor.
The other brother was more relatable to the first brother. Surely, this guy was afraid before. Surely, this guy would drown if daddy dropped him. We’re almost the same height. We have almost the same fears. Of course! We play together! I know he’s not that different from me! Maybe I can jump, too! And look how he trusted daddy.
Then I saw the passages from the book of Hebrews in a new light. This had been preached to us before many times, too (In fact, just last Sunday for me. Maybe that’s why it was at the top of my head. You can check it out when you have the time – Hebrews 3,4,5-ish.). It talks about how Jesus paid for our sins in full. How we can rest in that act that he did once and for all. But more than that – it talks about how Jesus became fully like us – in our weaknesses, in being tempted, in the fact that he took a crap like us, the fact that he pissed like us, the fact that he also got irritated by traffic (maybe it was of a different kind during his day. Maybe animals and foot traffic near the gates. Hey.).
He was and is the other brother. Who proves to us that God is not distant. That he himself felt our eternal yet everyday struggle of being pulled by two gravitational forces: fear and love. But he chose love. And leapt.
I saw the dad and two sons have a lot more training sessions throughout the afternoon. One exercise was for both kids to hold on to his hands and kick (that means make your feet like an engine for those of us who don’t swim). Son number one tried his best that day. Sure, he still felt nervous every time before he leapt from gutters into his dad’s waiting arm. But the other son always made sure to teach son number one how. Sure, Son number one drank a bit of water. He laughed through his nervousness. Sometimes he just shouted. But he held on to his dad’s arm when he called.
As we remember our Brother’s birth, and as we head into this new year, it might be helpful to be reminded, to rest – (not in the commercialised Boracay-Maui-Hotel Bathtub sense, but to give up control in trust. That is what you do when you sleep right? You just suddenly lose control and trust the mattress and pillow.) – in the fact that He has shown us how to jump into the Father’s arms.
I have refrained from posting anything about Yolanda, determined to to just shut up and help out. I told myself to wait until some of the dust cleared, and then maybe we can help one another out in the learning process.
I work in a field that has a lot to do with media, and I also teach students a bit about said field. So I might be a bit concerned on how we can improve the media – especially during a time of crisis. Besides, I’m Filipino, and I want my news – how I get it, how it’s consumed and spread – to be able to help me help those who are in need.
I also have some friends in the Broadcast Media. And some of my friends are reporters themselves. I salute you guys, especially those who were there in the midst of the onslaught, never leaving their post, and making sure you reported what needed to be reported – even to the point of sacrificing your safety and lives. So I do not mean to bash, I mean to help out a bit. If this reaches you, and if you agree with some of the points – I hope we can get the opinions to the people who matter. If you disagree, maybe you might actually know better, but I hope I made you think.
1. Accuracy over Attention
Leading up to Typhoon Yolanda’s arrival, a particular newspaper kept using US-based descriptions and classifications. This made the storm sound more terrible. Sure, it made the news more exciting. Sure, it made me want to read said daily. Sure, it might have grabbed a lot of people’s attention. Okay, it might have helped some people prepare better.
But what if we focused instead on being accurate instead of grabbing attention? There was much talk on the magnitude of the storm, how large and scary it was, but there could have been a lot more talk on which parts of the Philippines it was going to target, really. How long was it going to stay? What does it mean if the storm is that big? What storm in recent memory could equal this storm? If I have relatives in the affected regions, what should I do?
And this brouhaha over the “storm surge.” The media did a good job telling PAGASA they should have clarified what this actually meant. They did a good job telling PAGASA that the confusion led to many lives lost. True. But didn’t the news outlets get the PAGASA report and were actually able to read “storm surge” there? In the spirit of being accurate in order to inform, could they have tried to clarified with PAGASA before Yolanda hit? “Excuse me, Mr. Meteorologist sir, it says in your report ‘storm surge.’ I’ve never seen this before. Can you enlighten us? What’s it like?”
2. Cooperate Instead of Catfighting
People were dying. I don’t care who was right and who started it. People were dying while you were pulling each other’s hair and hitting each other with handbags over national and international TV. People were dying.
3. Now that everyone’s a reporter, maybe everyone should be more responsible.
I get it. Citizen journalism is the thing now. And with instagram and instant status updates from anywhere and everywhere through God knows what ungodly speeds and connections, everyone can be a journalist.
If that’s true, then maybe everyone should also go through the basic journalist rules. If you’re going to post something, make sure it’s true. Especially during a time that people’s emotions are as tempestuous as the typhoon.
At least people in the traditional news outlets have balls enough to be accountable when they’re wrong. Sure, there’s freedom of speech on social media yada yada yada. But with it comes great responsibility to the truth and to everyone who can share your update.
So there is no excuse for posting inaccurate and plain wrong information about people who did this or that or supposedly shameful acts. Such an act is libellous, and in this case, I see the point of the much-ballyhooed online libel law.
4. Move us to action. Don’t just plunge us into despair.
During the typhoon’s attack, and even afterward, several people uploaded and shared videos and pictures of the typhoon’s wrath.
I will give them the benefit of the doubt that they just wanted to inform people of what was happening. Because if it was mindless updating and sharing just for the sake of being first to share or upload, or plain mindless sharing, this is my question to you: what did you really want to achieve when you shared or uploaded images or videos of despair? What reaction did you want to get out of people?
Part of social media responsibility is that we try our best to post/upload/share with an objective, or at least some semblance of measure, of how people might react to what we share.
Images of despair left unaided will plunge us all into exactly that: despair. Unaided videos of violence can just leave people feeling helpless.
5. There is a right time and place for selfless and hashtags.
While most probably innocent and well-meaning, selfies with #rescuePH or #Yolanda popped up more than once in a while. I get it – volunteerism is the new activism, they say, and you’re proud of the moment. But maybe you could have waited until after a week or so? Or at the very least, maybe you shouldn’t use the hashtags reserved for far more important matters like locating missing people or directing people to where help is needed.
I don’t know about you, but I was taught that telling people they “could do it” without listening to what “it” really is, or appreciating “it” is not only insensitive, but can also be insulting. How do you tell people who are suffering that they could go through what they’re going through? I’m sure you want to give them hope. But I’m not sure you stuff it down their throats before listening to them and helping them.
All the “resilient” posts and messages, all the “we will rise again” and variations thereof are all well-intended. But seeing them right at the moment the tragedy was occurring seemed insensitive and quick to dismiss the suffering people were going through.
What I did find inspiring were images and posts that showed Hope-at-Work. This versus Hope-Dispensed-like-coins-to-beggars definitely gave me much more… well… hope.
7. Just cover it. Don’t call it special.
I cringed every time I heard and saw media giants call their Yolanda news updates their “Yolanda SPECIAL Coverage.”
Am I supposed to applaud? Am I supposed to feel like I owe you something? Am I supposed to feel like you’re giving me more than my money’s worth? That I’m getting something extra? Like a Special Siopao or Buko Pie?
Just cover it, guys. Again, people are dying. Do you really want to call your coverage that shows these people dying and helpless “Special?”
I’m sure these are just some of the things we can improve on as a media force that serves our nation. And I’m sure we can definitely improve.
Also, these are just some of the observations for the media-at-large. How we can improve in other areas like government response, is a whole other typhoon of a conversation in itself.
When you can no longer hear yourself pray in a cemetery, there is an evil scarier than we can imagine, that is at work.
My family and I were praying at the grave of my lolo. But above the amens, were the melodies of the Nestle ice cream carts that become more annoying when two or more of them are within earshot, and their syncing is just way off. The multitudes of people bringing pots, pans, banigs, candles, flowers, and coming in by droves. The bells of those selling buck sherbets. The booths that seem to occupy bigger and bigger spaces every year, frying hotdogs and siomai, calling out to people to buy. I shudder to think how the cemeteries in other parts of the country fared.
It all just smelled more like a school fair than of anything that reeked of solemnity.
You can blame commerce. Or the Pinoy penchant for turning anything into a party. Or both.
But what is it doing to us? That might be more important.
It robs us of a chance to sit (or stand) still. And think. Hard. About death. Which of course makes us think about life.
Now the jolly people of our world may caution me and make jokes about my seeming desire to be morbid. No, in fact, I want to do the opposite. I want us to remember how to really reflect about life.
This is one day in the year dedicated to remembering our dead loved ones, their legacy, and how they impact/ed our lives, and what we’re going to do with that. This is one moment to be still and stare death in the face, to remind us of our own physical bodies’ finity. That we are all time bound. That we ought to think about where we’re going to go after the final buzzer sounds. Or what we’re doing with the remaining time on the game clock.
A THROWBACK CHAMPIONSHIP and a Footnote (or Overtime!) on having to watch the Ateneo-UST knockout match while on a UST hospital bed
(note: pictures not mine. )
It’s no secret to most that I’m an Atenean, and I guess that’s why the facts sometimes (okay, most of the time) often swell into metaphors every time I talk about the UAAP team – whether this year’s or last year’s, or any other’s.
But I am also a basketball fan. And I think for the first time in years, I’ve been enjoying Final Four basketball, the stories that unfold, the heroes, demigods and villains that enter the picture, without any ball and chain attached to my neck. I think the same goes for the coming Finals match. Without a shade of blue (NU dropped out too, so…) save for Araneta and/or MOA Arena’s courts, I get to enjoy such a high level of college hoops and a high, if not savage level of fanaticism from other schools. Yes, again, without direct consequences to my well-being. And I get to blog without much metaphorical bias (or so we think).
Now, we might as well bring out the cassette tapes of Backstreet Boys and Spice Girls, don those hip hop jerseys and cargo pants (low waist), and watch Tabing Ilog. We’re going back to the 90s. It’s DLSU vs UST!
For the benefit of those born after the Era of the Eagles, or were still too young to care (for those who were there, please correct me if I miss out on anything) :
In the more recent years of the UAAP (the 90s count as part of the modern era), the UST Tigers were the first to string together a cycle of championships. Four to be exact. From 1993 to 1996. (I’m using the year they won it, as opposed to school years.)
But to grasp how special that was, a bit of history: The league, as you might know, institutes a Final Four System, wherein the Top Four are rewarded with what can be the equivalent of “playoff spots.” In 1993, the rules stated that if a team swept the eliminations, they will automatically be champions. Pretty logical, eh? But bad for TV, I guess. So they instated the Step Ladder: if you sweep eliminations, you get one automatic Finals Slot, and there’s a convoluted way of number 3 going against number 2, etc. to decide who gets to challenge you who’s supposedly beaten everybody else already.
In any case, in 1993, before the rules changed, UST swept the eliminations. So automatic champions. Then came 1994, 1995, and 1996. And guess who they faced there? Yes. La Salle. All three years.
FEU then gave a bit of breathing room for the league when they won the crown in 1997 against La Salle. But in 1998, after four years of bridesmaid finishes, La Salle finally became champion. And they would be so until 2001, establishing their own reign in the UAAP.
After the reign of Gold, and then the reign of Emerald, were the back-and-forth years:
Then Ateneo came in 2002, to win an improbable championship.
FEU in 2003, 2004, and 2005 (2004 should have gone to La Salle, but they had shenanigans on eligibility. So FEU gave the league another break between championship cycles.) Then UST defeated Ateneo in 06. 2007 went to La Salle after they beat the UE Red Warriors (The stepladder we talked about earlier was in play here because UE swept the eliminations. But they fell to the Archers when it mattered most. Had the Warriors done this around 15 years earlier, they would have become champions, I guess.)
In 2008, the Eagles broke the old cycle of four rule, establishing their dominance from that year straight till 2012. Doing so gave them the longest championship streak by any school in the Final Four Era: Five straight First Place Finishes. (UE has a streak of six from the older days of the UAAP. The Eagles tried to tie that this year, I guess, but…).
But enough of the Eagles. Now, the stage is set for a rematch of the Kings of Old.
Of course there’s the Teng vs. Teng battle. 4th year Jeric for UST. 2nd year Jeron for La Salle. Of course you’d want Jeric to win because it might be his last year, Jeron still has two more years, etc. etc. But nah. Anyone who has a brother and is competitive enough to love basketball knows that this is no different from one-on-ones in the neighborhood court. You try to keep the younger brother “in his place” but the younger brother tries to upstage the kuya. All in good competition. The only winner here is Alvin Teng. Great to see him, actually. He’ll be in the stands. Jarencio will be coaching. Caidic and Limpot on the other bench. Talk about throwback!
But both teams have a good story this year. If they were contestants on an ABS-CBN reality show, they’d both have amazing sob stories to tell. La Salle changed its coaching staff two weeks before the start of the season. Went down to the wild mix in the middle of the pack at the end of the first round. Then went up all the way for nine straight victories (so far) to the championship. Jeron Teng’s free throw shooting is getting more reliable. The bench is superb and the depth is something to be scared about. The frontline is getting smarter. Coach Juno Sauler is looking more and more like a genius. And his motto: Just keep getting better everyday.
Coach Nash Racela of FEU called La Salle, “The New Ateneo,” meaning La Salle is most probably the team with enough depth, firepower and maturity to string together championships again. Sauler is as level-headed as ever: just keep getting better everyday and let’s see where that takes us.
Meanwhile, UST was relegated to the middle of the pack until the end of the second round. They had to play against Ateneo for fourth place. Then had to beat NU twice. And miracle of miracles. Coach Pido still has some magic and fight in his pockets. They became the first Fourth Placer to unseat the First Placer. From almost leaving UST to getting them back to the Finals. (Jarencio for three! SWOOSH! Jawo would be proud.)
Both teams are peaking at the right time. Both teams have good frontlines. The guards battle probably goes to La Salle. Depth also goes to La Salle – especially if Vosotros finds his rhythm again and Perkins continues his rampage. Wingmen – UST. Coaching – draw. Both are able to get the best out of their players at the time they need it, or steady their hearts if need be.
That said, I honestly don’t know whether to pick Gold or Green. I guess this year, I just get to simply enjoy the fact that for the first time since 1999, and after their epic battles even in the mid90s, we’ve got two titans trying to rule the earth again.
OVERTIME: WATCHING THE UST-ATENEO GAME IN UST HOSPITAL
Watching Ateneo fall to UST was tough (watching your team fall to any team is tough), not just because it booted us out of the Final Four for the first time in 15 years, but because I had to watch the game on a UST hospital bed (for those who don’t know, the UST hospital is right in the heart of the Pontifical Campus).
I had dengue. Was admitted in UST because my tito is a doctor there. Was admitted on a Saturday. And one of my concerns, believe it or not, was if i would have to stay in the hospital until Wednesday and watch the game there. Well, I ended up having to do so.
I remember the scene in the Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King when Frodo and Sam were nearing Mount Doom. Outside, Aragorn and his troops were trying to lure the Eye’s gaze away from the two hobbits so they could finish their mission. So Frodo and Sam got to see all the evil creatures from Mordor troop out and head toward the Black Gate where the battle was going to be.
It felt like that. Minus the evil, of course. Everyone was in yellow. EVERYONE. By 2PM, much of the crowd was gone. Not trooping to the Black Gate but to the LRT station probably, to go to Araneta. By 330, everyone was going to the Plaza Mayor, where they had set up a JumboTron.
When UST set up its big first half lead, it was noisy outside. It didn’t matter that the church and hospital were nearby. It didn’t help that the JumboTron was around a second early in its telecast. So when UST was going to make a shot, you knew whether it went in or not because the horde outside was happy.
Then Ateneo made its run, and I was connected to the dextrose but cheering. The crowd outside was silent. Ha. Then UST made its counter-run, and the crowd was back, roaring. Even more loudly this time because the game was about to end. But Ateneo made a swashbuckling, last-minute run and almost had the game, too. The nurses came in and wanted to switch my IV hand (because my left hand was already swollen), but I asked them if they can come back after the game. They obliged, but not before smiling and watching a bit of the game in my hospital room.
But alas. The happy horde wasn’t to be denied its revelry. And throughout the night, there was much merriment outside my hospital window.
Yes, the nurses came back after the game. And I had to congratulate them. And I don’t know if it’s a coincidence, but I think I registered my lowest platelet count the morning after.
Why Ateneo sucked this year (and why we can probably face next year with a bit more of hope in our pockets)
Para sa mga di pa naka-move-on, para sa mga palaging tinatanong ng kaibigan at kamag-anak “Anyare sa Ateneo?” At para na rin sa tinatawag na closure.
For my part, I knew this year would be bad, but I didn’t think it would be this bad.
So here are 5 probable reasons, plus some bright spots to remember during the offseason.
(Pahabol: pics aren’t mine. )
1. The Coach
I think I incessantly blogged about it last year, and well, it looks like it was worth being incessant about.
So here I go again: In college hoops, more than anywhere, the Coach embodies the program. Keyword: Program. A program assumes that your team, your finances, your scouting, and your strategies are built for a run that lasts. Take a look at Duke, North Carolina, Florida U, and all the successful college teams in the states. They’re not always champions, sure, but they always contend in the NCAA March Madness. They always have very excellent teams. And in all these cases, the program is an imprint of the coach and vice versa.
Now think about the Ateneo Program, run for almost a decade by one of the best coaches in the country. The 3-4 month UAAP college hoops contest is only the proverbial tip of the basketball iceberg. That’s showtime. But behind the scenes, year-round, are practices, scouting guys like Baclao from the Visayas, teaching big men like Ford Arao and Doug Kramer not to suck so much. And preparing to do it all again next year. Together with the school’s athletics department, he ran a program. Not just coached a team.
And in one flip of the page, he disappeared.
Coach Bo Perasol is probably an able coach, and I’m sure he loves the players, but he is just that – at least as of now – : an able coach who loves his players. He is nowhere near the Pinoy Basketball Hall of Famer Norman Black is, teaching doesn’t seem to be one of his strong suits.
I was reminded that Bo Perasol actually faced a very tough crowd with absurd expectations. He also wasn’t able to bring in his own coaching staff like a coach usually has the prerogative to do so. He also didn’t have all the players he was supposed to play with.
Which brings us to the next point:
2. Kiefer Ravena
I remember a Facebook status I posted after Ateneo lost its first three games:
“Now I know what it feels like to be a Lakers fan.”
Of course, my Atenean friends who were also Lakers fans were the ones who understood, too.
Imagine losing Phil Jackson at the start of the season. Then Kobe getting injured as the playoffs started. I think the losses were proportional: Losing a hall-of-famer coach then injuring your star player during a critical time of the season.
You can argue, of course, that Kiefer Ravena was able to come back midway through the season. Then you can go on to say that Ateneo still had that chance because he was there. True, but I think what we weren’t able to see were the intangibles off the court:
Kiefer wasn’t able to jell with his teammates right before the season started. He was never able to get his groove back. By the time he was inserted back into the starting lineup, the pressure and stakes had become too high that there was no more time nor room to find whatever rhythm you used to have. He was uncharacteristically sputtering: throwing away possessions, and even missing crucial free throws.
Which then brings us to the next point (see? it’s a web!)
3. As a team, they never really jelled.
Remember, the team was supposed to have Pinggoy. Together, he and Ravena and Buenafe were supposed to be an unstoppable machine. Then Ravena also fell to injury. Buenafe and Newsome found ways to win early in the season.. Then Ravena came back and the whole team had to find a way to work together again.
Many times, in fact during their worst offensive stretches, they looked like they were just practicing. Soft passes. Soft picks. Running through the motions. Even during the critical stretches. Result: more turnovers that we could care to count.
During their best moments, the defense was amazing. As soon as the bad shot was rebounded, or as soon as the steal was made, the offense was off and running. Which was what you wanted to see a team built to run do a lot more. There was no imposing inside presence, so you couldn’t run post-anchored offensive sets. And when the team WAS off and running, they were very difficult to stop.
Not to say that they were also completely in sync on defense, too. Against UE in the first round and against NU in the 2nd, there were defensive plays down the stretch that could have definitely changed the outcome of the game. Instead, there were wide open shots for the opponent.
Which leads us to…
4. A lack of ABLE big men
Remember Greg Slaughter? Nonoy Baclao? Then there was a time when Norman Black transformed Ford Arao and Doug Kramer into good big men.
But this year, Erram and Golla did their best to fill in the gaps. However, they were often seen gasping for air, in foul trouble, or letting the big men of the opposing teams have their way. Of course it didn’t help that the other teams were using imports to boost their front line.
I’m not saying you need a hulking presence in the middle to win a championship. I think FEU got its winning streak going by sticking to what it did best – high-powered guard and SF action + a lot of sweet shooting. But it had able big men to anchor the defense and at least hold the fort.
Our big men, again, did their best. They huffed. They puffed. But our house kept falling down.
5. The other teams just got really better this year.
Aside from UP, everyone was just raring to go.
There were the imported big men from all over. There were the teams that were waiting for half a decade to finally show that they too had the stuff to win titles. La Salle had been all fired up, waiting for the right time. I would be, too, if my arch rivals lorded it over me for 5 straight years. NU was also raring to show that it had vastly improved. FEU was also out to win it all. UST, UE, and Adamson were not pushovers, either.
So as teams became better, Ateneo’s level of excellence dropped. Wrong time to do so, I know, but that’s how it goes.
Good points for next year:
1. You can be sure the team would have already jelled. Losing together, being crushed together, and then coming to camp with a full roster, are bound to make sure the Blue Eagles’ Machine won’t be conking out rust when it’s needed to work again.
2. The sting of this year’s defeat will definitely make them come out with bigger hearts next year. I don’t think a guy like Kiefer Raven will take losing lightly.
3. Coaching Improvements
I’m NOT saying that there needs to be a coaching change. For all you know, Coach Bo Perasol will find his way next year, straight into the Final Four, and out of trouble. In any case, if Coach Sandy Arespacochaga forgives us for the abuse he suffered from the community some years back when he first tried serving as head coach, maybe he can also coach us. I honestly don’t know if he’ll do a better job than Coach Bo, but during that year he was head coach, he was 7-0 in the first round, and we made it into the Final Four. This year, Coach Sandy has grown immensely – he is not just assistant in the Ateneo squad, he’s also Coach Norman’s assistant in the Talk N’ Text pro squad. During the game against UST, he coached magnificently: he found a way to get the team back into the game despite being down by double digits, he found words to get the big men going against Abdul, he risked calling his last timeout with a lot more time left but it produced good results. All I’m saying is the guy’s ready. Again.
4. It’s just a bad year in the program. Again, Ateneo can look ahead because its basketball team is only part of a program. Recruitment, training, etc. go on and on and on because the program is in place.
(or how to join the water-dispenser conversations, or how to explain to your non-basketball friends (do they exist?) why your blood pressure was so high these past 10 days. Or why your basketball-crazy officemate couldn’t stop talking about different countries but it wasn’t about Zero Fares)
There are 10 reasons. You can skip to the ones you think you like best.
1. First, The Philippines won an international tournament.
When people say they will fight for you, I think they at least deserve a “Thank you” and “good luck.” Well, said people just won for you, and I think we should at least congratulate them.
Rejoice. Be merry. It doesn’t matter if the Philippine team won in Tennis, Swimming, Archery, he Olympics, the Asian Games, or in Monopoly – our team won.
This is all the more important because we won in basketball. You might not be into basketball, but I guess, 9 and 3/4 out of 10 people are into it, have played it, or have relatives who have high blood pressure because of it.
The FIBA World Basketball Championship is set every two years. Yes, just like its more famous cousin, the FIFA World Cup (for football, yup!). For some reason, there are a certain number of slots allotted to different regions. And these regions compete for these slots. The FIBA Asia competition had three slots open. So the Philippines’ objective was to win one of these three – or, to at least finish third. We ended up second. And yes, that’s why everybody was still very happy despite losing to Iran in the finals. We get to go to Spain and play with the world’s best again.
I think the last time we busted into the World Stage, was before I was born (I’m 28, so you have an idea). So if you’re my age or thereabouts, our parents might have been longing for this moment even before they were longing for you and me to come into the world.
For a basketball crazy country, you think we’d get our act together sooner. However, as it happened, division and politicking got in the way. We made several different leagues. We argued about who to send to competitions. We didn’t even have a decent training pool. We finally got banned. We worked our way back into being legitimized, and now, we finally hosted the shebang, and got a ticket into the bigger stage.
2. Because of the Amazing Business it is, that it generated, and will continue to generate.
MVP did it again. He rescued a cause many believed to be too worn out by politics to cause the country any good. Of course he must have earned a lot of money by investing in this team, but the fact is – he invested in the dream everyone left behind (or everyone just fought over).
Events like these are the confluence of many sectors: Sports, Marketing, and Tourism. All of them pitched in. All of them earned.
Imagine all the teams flying over here. Imagine them telling their families what a greet place the Philippines is. Imagine how many of them actually return. Imagine how many rooms they got at the Dusit or wherever. Imagine how much food they bought.
Imagine all the people in the SM MOA Arena looking for something to eat. Imagine the parking costs. Imagine all the merchandise they bought to commemorate the event.
We haven’t even talked about the tickets yet.
So aside from making a great business out of the event, the Pangilinan Group also made the Philippines a great business for other countries to invest in.
3. Gary David
If you’re not a basketball fan, you might still be interested in the stories of these next three guys who made me love the sport even more.
First up, is Gary David.
Gary is a gunner. In basketball, that means he usually shoots from the three point area. Note, they don’t shoot exclusively from there. But when they get “hot” – no one could stop them. Some gunners you might have heard of are Allan Caidic and Ray Allen. In the eternal words of the Pringles guys, once they pop, they’re hard to stop.
The thing with gunners is that it’s as much a mental game as it is a physical one. Gary David was in a slump. Blame pressure. Blame mental toughness. Whatever. After the first game, he got called out by his coach – his percentage was nowhere near where the team needed it to be. It wasn’t there during the next game, either.
Then came the game where the crowd, instead of booing him, cheered him on still. Then all the trust of his coach his team mates and the crowd paid off when he exploded for 22 points one night when he was needed most.
Here’s a beautiful article by one of my favorite sports writers, Carlo Paminutan : http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/320773/sports/opinion/2013-fiba-asia-championship-how-the-crowd-saved-gary-david
4. Marcus Douthit
We were told in Grade School AP/Sibika/Hekasi, that Citizenship is acquired through two natural means: jus sanguini, and jus soil. Then there are other means, like naturalization. I learned, however, that there is another one: laying your body on the line for your teammates and the flag whose anthem you now rise to.
That’s how Marcus Douthit earned the trust, thanks, and even adoration of this basketball-crazy nation. Despite being injured, he played hobbled. Despite being hurt, he fought. And the beautiful thing about how Douthit handled his injury was that he tried his best not to show how it really hurt. The first time he fell, he did not allow himself to be carried off on a stretcher.
When he played again that same game to secure the win, a wince was the only window through which the world would see his pain.
When he played the next game, he played big and once again helped bail our shocked asses, this time from the Hong Kong surprise. Then he tried to do it against versus South Korea. Alas, his injury finally caught up with his body. He had to leave in the second quarter. But he still refused to be melodramatic. The way he left the court, the way he sat on the bench, you’d think it was business-as-usual, and he’d just get up and get back. He was a soldier who fought for the same country I would fight for.
5. Gabe Norwood
Gabe Norwood is my personal choice as Gilas MVP.
Fine, he didn’t score the same number of points as Chan, Castro, Tenorio or Douthit. He didn’t explode like David. But he is the glue of that team. He is the perfect player that can play up to four positions, shoot and drive, and defend the best player on the opposing team. AND he doesn’t tire easily. He might be the one with the most number of minutes. I would even dare say that Gilas’ wanting to run, attack, and be the most hardworking and athletic team is possible because they have Norwood. I would even venture saying that if Norwood weren’t there, the entire character of the team might change.
Theirs are only three stories among the rich collection this team must have. Stories that will not only make you love basketball, but even being a Filipino.
6. Because it proves that height is not necessarily might.
If there anything we proved, it’s that height is not everything.
OKAY, height is definitely something. Like in the game against Iran. Okay, it was because of Haddadi, that freakishly tall Iranian Center. However, signs pointed to the fact that given the right manpower, we could have taken him down (figuratively).
OKAY, basketball is a game for tall people, the object of the game being to put the ball in a basket 10 feet up in the air.
But look at the Gilas Team.
We were never the tallest team. But we made sure we were always the more hardworking, more passionate and more fired-up one.
Dennis Rodman wasn’t the tallest guy, but man could he rebound. So could Charles Barkley. Locally, we had Rudy Hatfield. And in international play, South Korea proves time and time again, that it’s not just about size, but speed, athleticism, skills and know-how. They slew the Chinese Dragon with it. Look at the US Team, too. There’s only one “true” Center on that team: Chandler.
And yes, in the end, Haddadi got the better of us. But i’m not so sure he’s unbeatable. Because there were flashes of strategy there where we thought we had him. Given more manpower and more time to study his game, this team of lilliputians can haul Gulliver’s ass.
So we’re finding out all over the world, and we proved it on our home soil: height is just one way to win in basketball. Heart is another matter altogether.
7. Because it gives younger players a bigger dream.
Now, every varsity player in high school and college can actually dream beyond just the PBA. Hopefully, as my friend Aaron said in his status, that these kids get to appreciate these games this past week, and develop a desire to play for the Flag.
Now, every young guy or girl playing with a makeshift court in his backyard or subdivision can also dream big. They can believe that they too have what it takes to compete with the world’s best.
I hope coaches, trainers and scouts also get to see that they have a place in helping our country not only get better in basketball, but also represent the country themselves on the world stage.
8. Because it proves, once again, that our athletes and coaches, given proper training and funding, can compete with the world.
Imagine every sport, coach, team and athlete in our country given the same investment by Manny Pangilinan. I think you get the picture.
Some coaches and trainers today give free advice and sessions to deserving athletes who desire to compete. Some athletes brave competing in a sport and fighting for the flag even if they know that the compensation may not be good, or even passable. But there are too much of these martryrdoms. We have a long way to go from donations and gimmes to actually institutionalizing our sport funding. The Gilas Business Model might – emphasis on MIGHT – be a good way of doing things.
9. It unites us.
Basketball, for all the teamwork it preaches during MILO Best Training Camps and such, can also be quite divisive. There are various styles of playing. Various teams to root for. Various players to cheer for. And a lot of Coke Litro to fight for.
So if you’ve seen your fanatic friend go haywire over certain arguments, you know what I mean.
This GIlas Run, however, brought everyone together. Doubters and believers, blind lovers and rabid haters – everyone threw their support for the team.
And you could see it in the way our different coaches came together, too. All the best minds in the country, at one point or another, came and helped Gilas. Yeng Guiao, Tim Cone, and Toroman came in to check on the team and shared their assessments with Coach Reyes. Jawo even came to inspire them. Norman Black, and Jong Uichico came to assist on the bench. Nash Racela and Ryan Gregorio filled the role of scouts and video boys. They all came together for the players and the country the players served.
The fans, too, came together, not just on social networks, but in their hopes and dreams.
So whether you cheered for Ateneo or La Salle, Crispa or Toyota, Ginebra or Alaska, (or even Miami or San Antonio), i think you shouted at the same time i did as the final buzzer sounded tonight. you, me, and everyone in the Philippines who grew up with a basketball in his hand and magic in his heart.
10. It makes us remember.
Some Marxist-leaning scholars, social commentators or even taxi drivers can tell us that religion, entertainment and sports are actually instruments of existing hierarchies to make the masses forget the things that matter.
Okay… granted. Sports does lift us on a plane equal to some sort of Shrooms. Everytime Pacquiao fights, for example, we forget everything else.
However, sports also has the capability to remind us of our capacity as a citizenry. Sports can remind us of who we are as a people. Sports can push our spines against walls and from catastrophe, discover our character.
We learned from the Gilas experience that the Pinoy fights. Whether we’re down by 10, or we end up losing by 10. Whether we’re faced with a sprightly offense that runs like clockwork, or we’re being bombed by threes, or we’re being literally overshadowed by giants from the Middle East, we fight.
Because the players reminded us of our fighting spirit and unrelenting heart, we must be able to use that which is in our national DNA to fight different battles: against poverty, against corruption, against apathy. We must fight against those who pocket millions, from the millions who are battling for life. And like Gilas did every night they stepped on the court we must give our heart, soul, sinew and yes, pockets into the fights that need fighting.
Sorry, everyone. Haven’t been frying fishballs in a while. :-)
Work got a bit heavy, and I also got involved in other writing projects. Some of these projects took a bit more energy than i estimated. but all’s well, and i might even upload them here, soon.
get sauce. get beer. some fishballs are coming your way.