We go crazy for our hoop team
Playing for the Philippine national basketball team is never easy. If other countries cheer or curse their national football teams, we Filipinos follow each game of our basketball team with cheers, prayers and armchair analysis that only a country so immersed in basketball can come up with.
It’s understandable when Gilas (or previous Philippine teams) plays the basketball behemoths of the world from the Americas or Europe who are simply so much taller and bigger in body size. It’s a marvel how they can be so athletic at the same time.
Losing to them is relatively understandable but pulling one over a few of them is a major triumph. Long before Latin Americans and Europeans became taller, Philippine Olympic and World Championship teams would beat a number of their highly touted squads. Sterling finishes in the World Championships and the Olympics even fueled the hope that maybe we could remain in the top five in the world. Well, the world learned how to play better with their tall men and we were momentarily left behind while we regrouped and looked for taller and beefier players both here and from abroad.
It’s different though when we play our rivals like South Korea, Japan, China and even the Southeast teams that want to beat the Philippines like Thailand and Malaysia. There’s nothing like an Asian showdown to get people back into being diehard fans of the national team.
Filipinos want “perfection” from their hoop heroes because they don’t like the endgame heroics of Korea or China to spoil the party. They want their team to be fluid and flawless from the get-go because it’s too painful to watch a cardiac game and lose it in the end.
There’s nothing wrong with being different folk once our team plays in these international tournaments like the World Qualifier Gilas is in right now. There were undoubtedly joyful stretches when Gilas took the early lead against Japan and there were equally anxious moments when a 12-0 Japanese third quarter run tied the count. The timely snipping of Jason Castro and the adjusted game of Andray Blatche saved the win and the team now looks ahead to a home game against Chinese-Taipei on Monday.
So just be yourself as you cheer but be fair in your comments and social media posts because it isn’t easy to whip up a team in very little time. Having a ball while alternately feeling anxiety and joy are all part of being a national team supporter. After all, it’s your team.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.