Last night, the whole nation watched the FIBA Asia game pitting China against the Philippines. It was a big letdown when Gilas Pilipinas lost but not without a fight. To be fair, China played better and the Gilas team did not play their best. What compounded the problem was they had to do some cheap tricks before the game causing the ire of Gilas’ godfather, Manny V. Pangilinan, or better known as MVP.
So, we lost our chance to win the game that will catapult us to Rio Olympics next year. But we still have another chance next year but the games are tougher as it will pit us against bigger teams like the European teams.
Between boxing and basketball, I would say that the Philippines is more of a basketball nation. Boxing only became more recognized because of the immensely popular Pacquiao. Take away Pacquiao in the equation and boxing will just be another sport that many Filipino boxers excel in. As an added proof of the sport’s popularity, even Pacquiao is a “professional basketball player” in our very own PBA. You can only see this kind of situation “only in the Philippines”.
That the outcome of the game was a heartbreak was a given. The entire nation have been pining for that Olympic berth which we last played in the 1950s if my memory serves me right. After that, the mighty and taller China ruled Asian basketball.
Do we still have a chance? I do see hashtags like #satamangpanahon (at the right time).
We got the silver when the 1st PBA selection was formed in a hush and I was mighty proud of that as it was laden with pure Filipino talents (again, if I remember correctly). Nothing against naturalized Filipinos but it makes me prouder when our basketball team is composed of true-blooded Filipinos. After all, it should be that way and has been that way in the beginning. But the game has changed since then. Now, teams can get “imports” by way of the naturalization process. Naturally, we took advantage of this as we are lacking in height. In basketball, sometimes, “height is might” is the best option.
The benefit of this “naturalization process” also afforded us to get some NBA players like in this recent tournament. We got Andre Blatche, who was a tremendous boost to our cause. However, it doesn’t mean that if we have an NBA player, we will be the champion by default. The planned inclusion of Jordan Clarkson next year to our basketball team is a big help but is not a guarantee. Basketball is and will always be a “team sport” no matter who we have in our lineup.
There are many reasons why we didn’t get the gold this time:
- Our team is not composed of the best players out there. Some PBA teams did not “lend” their best players so the coaching staff had to do with who are available.
- Our basketball schedule were not favorable to our team. We played like 3 games in 46 hours!
- There were many glitches going into the Finals game that you would think the Chinese organizers had a hand in it. Even our very own MVP was very upset about it.
But I believe the most important thing is we cannot move forward because of too much politics in the sport. Because of this, we don’t have a long-term development plan for our basketball program that will allow some companies in the PBA to lend their best players to take part in international competition on a regular and long-term basis.
As Heneral Luna would say, “Bayan o sarili?” (country or self?). Not much difference in Philippine politics. Many politicians enrich themselves when elected to public office in the guise of offering to help our country for the better. Same reason for some PBA companies or players.
No matter how much we love the basketball sport, if our government and private leaders will not unite to finally end this “drought” in terms of gold and Olympic qualifier, we will only be 2nd to China.
I don’t think any Filipino would like to outlive #SaTamangPanahon in their lifetime.