Philippine bets don’t deserve nasty commentsBy Ronnie Nathanielsz
Philippine Daily Inquirer
We have consistently maintained that when athletes represent our country in various athletic disciplines in the international arena, we have an obligation to support them. If they win we share in the pride of their victory and feel happy for them. If they lose we share in the agony of their defeat but never, ever putting them down or downplaying their achievements.
It is so easy to sit on the sidelines and criticize these young men and women when those who wield a malicious pen are incapable of doing what these athletes seek to achieve for themselves as well as for our country and, in many instances, haven’t a clue about the nuances of the games they dare to criticize.
The Smart Gilas basketball team, the charismatic Azkals football squad, even fighters like two-division world champion Donnie Nietes and our amateur boxers have been the objects of nasty comments, without any consideration for who they fought, the caliber of the teams they played and what odds they had to overcome in their separate quests for recognition.
We covered the Nietes world title fight against Ramon Garcia Hirales which Nietes won, giving him – and the Philippines we must stress – another world title. It certainly didn’t measure up to the exciting performances of pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao but we must remember that Manny is one of a rare breed of champions the likes of whom we may never see in our lifetime.
The bottom line is Nietes won a world title, his second, against a touted Mexican. We need not make any excuses for Donnie or his performance. But it should be incumbent for us to remember that Nietes was a janitor at the ALA Gym who rose to become a two-division world champion which is a far more compelling achievement than those amongst us who criticized his performance.
The Azkals slammed four goals past a hapless Nepal football team that was ranked no less than 31 places above the Philippines and in the process shut the mouths of those who sought to belittle what they have achieved in so short a time.
The Azkals performance was described as “fantastic” by Nepal’s British coach Graham Roberts who played for one of the top clubs in the Premier League, Tottenham Hotspur for which he won two league titles, a UEFA Cup and represented England no less than six times. This is a man who obviously knows his football and praised the Azkals, who played without Angel Guirado and Stephan Schrock, two live wires who make the team an attractive attacking force, yet performed at the highest level. No thanks to the carping critics, the Azkals have clearly established football on the sporting landscape of our country. After decades of neglect, the most popular game in the world and the Azkals themselves have been embraced by millions of Filipinos.
While we too were somewhat disappointed with the Smart Gilas performance for failing to qualify for the London Olympics and we lamented the non-use of Japeth Aguilar by coach Rajko Toroman which could have made a difference in crucial games, we recognize the inherent difficulties of Smart Gilas in relation to its desire to recruit players from the pro league and the collegiate ranks. Smart Gilas has, at the very least, redeemed the respect we once enjoyed in the international arena. While we thrilled at the achievements of Danding Cojuangco’s Northern Consolidated team and the success of his program under the brilliant American coach Ron Jacobs, we should not forget that the team stayed together for two or three years. The team also had not one but three naturalized players of tremendous talent – Dennis Still, who was a rebounding demon, Jeff Moore, who could soar above the rim and play incredible defense despite being a mere 6-foot-3 and Chip Engelland, who could shoot the lights out in any venue against any team.
We have one boxer who qualified for the London Olympics, Mark Anthony Barriga, the littlest fighter on the team who unfortunately faced China’s two-time world champion and Olympic gold medalist Zou Shiming in the quarterfinals. All is not lost and while we wished we had more boxers qualifying for London let us not belittle the efforts of the Abap under president Ricky Vargas and chairman Manny V. Pangilinan. At least they and our boxers have tried their very best and that’s more than we can ask from anyone.
More from this Column:
- Donaire putting a lot on the line in next bout
- GTK stays as POC member
- Philippine bets don’t deserve nasty comments
- Nietes fulfills a dream
- Let’s wish Nietes the best