When Gilas fought against Korea in the FIBA Asia Cup last
year, it was the night before my 5am flight to Bacolod. Staying up late to
watch the game wasn’t even in question. Of course, nanood ako. Sumigaw pa nga
ako eh. Nagtatalon. Napaluha nang konti when we won and secured our spot in the
world cup. Our boys are going to Spain. Our boys are going to Spain. Our boys
are going to Spain. Those words kept pounding in my head. Di ako makapaniwala.
Di pa mag sink in yung gravity ng mga salitang yun. OA ba?
When I started watching the PBA, the only thing I was sure
about basketball is that I hate Jaworski. He was already a coach then. Playing
coach but barely playing. I saw him curse his players on TV. Grade 1 ako noon
so anyone who says bad words was a bad person to me. My dad was an Alaska fan.
Naturally, I became one, too. My dad patiently explained to me the rules every
time I would ask him, “Why did they stop?” referring to the players whenever a
referee blew the whistle. Later on, I became familiar with the rules. Even the
hand signals of the referees memorized ko na.
When we were taught volleyball in grade 2, medyo naconfuse pa ko sa difference
ng signals. Yung traveling kasi naging substitution. Yung mga ganun.
My first ever favorite basketball player was, of course,
from Alaska. Pero hindi si Jojo Lastimosa. Hindi rin si Duremdes or Hawkins. Si
Flying A, Johnny Abarrientos! Gwapo!! I wore jersey no. 14 my entire grade
school days because of him. In grade 3, I started playing basketball during intrams.
I can still remember my first game. I was called for double dribbling violation
a couple of times. Hindi kasi masyado natatawag yun sa PBA so di ako familiar.
Pag uwi ko, I asked my dad. Sabi nya, “Anak, pag nadribble mo na yung bola,
tapos nahawakan mo ng dalawang kamay, di mo na pwede i-dribble ulit. Dapat pasa
na. Or shoot.” I was never called out for that again.
Madaming madami pang kwento.
There was a time I got late for a quarter exam kasi di pa
tapos yung Bulls vs. Jazz NBA finals. My dad was supposed to drive me to school
pero pareho kaming glued on tv. From the bed, naupo kami sa corner tapos
tumayo. Pero di talaga makaalis. I can’t remember what my exam was that day but
I can still remember how we cheered when the Bulls won. So I guess tama yung
priority namin ng tatay ko. I’ve seen Cuneta Astrodome’s better days because we
used to watch PBA games there live. Kahit inter-village league, pinapanood
namin ng tatay ko. That’s why I learned the terms, ‘hugot’, ‘overaged’, ‘bakaw’
very early in life. Yung cheer pa nung brgy. namin dati pag nakakalamang sa
kalaban, ‘Di makakibo! Di makakibo!’. Ang saya lang talaga. On school days,
lagi akong last trip sa school bus kasi nakikipaglaro pa ko ng basketball. Sa
mga lalake. Nang naka-skirt. Ang consequence eh bano ako sa chinese garter.
In highschool, I was watching the UAAP already. Wala lang.
Impartial. I just really enjoyed watching the game. But one time, in a do or
die match, Jec Chia made a crucial three after Artadi’s error that brought an
underdog to the Finals. Dun, dun ako naging Ateneo fan. Ateneo won
the championship that year, while I eventually ended up with La Salle. I didn’t
know what I’d do with a Management Economics degree, so I went to the green
side. Minahal ko rin syempre. Mahal talaga. I would watch the games live or on
TV, while cheering my heart out for La Salle. Tapos, sa gabi, I’d catch the
replay and focus because I want to know how well or bad we really played.
My support for Gilas is not only because of Chot Reyes or Marc
Pingris or Jimmy Alapag. Or even just the fact that we are Filipinos, so we have an obligation to support them. I support Gilas for everything that basketball means
to me starting from that day I became an Abarrientos fan. Sabi ko nga sa
boyfriend ko, yung iyak ko for Gilas ay for every basketball player I have
loved before. Naks! Gilas is the personification of every basketball fan’s
dream. Hindi ko rin alam. Pero ramdam ko talaga. Yung saya, yung pag-asa, yung
pagmamahal. At syempre, yung sakit.
I couldn’t even count the number of times my dad said,
“Naku, nung panahon nina Jawo sa FIBA, wala yan”. And I would always listen in amazement. I couldn’t imagine then how we
could have possibly been that great once upon a time. That’s his story. I want
my own. And I want it to be about these boys because they deserve it. THEY DO. So for the past 3 days, I stayed up late and woke up in the
wee hours of the morning because I have to see it. I have to watch them. Not
just see the final scores. I want to watch how our boys play. And boy did they
play beautifully, every freakin’ time!
I wanted to wait until the first round is over before
putting into writing how I feel. Because of hope. Because of expectations. Because
of closure? But I will say this now: this will be my story. 2014 FIBA Basketball world cup will be
the story I will repeat to my kids when they start raving about, well, sino ba
star player ng San Beda Cubs this year?
History will not be about moral victories, sure. History
normally starts with quantifiable facts and we aren’t sure if we’ll even get
one under our W in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The line: our first win
in the world cup since 1974 may have to wait another 4 years. But I do not
care. My dad’s story is that of a triumphant ending. Mine will be of a
beginning. Of men who fought against odds, against statistics. Men who
surprised the world, the Philippines, themselves.
I’m not sure if we’ll win against Senegal tonight. I hope we will. With all my heart, I believe we can. But what I’m
sure of is, every time those men stepped on the court the last 4 games, odds
were thrown out the window; statistics suddenly were unreliable. They gave us a
game. A GAME. Against the world’s best and brightest. As a basketball fan, that
is all I could truly ask for. Masaya manalo, syempre! Sino’ng may ayaw? Pero
yung basketball na minahal ko, yun yung nilaro ng Gilas sa FIBA. Kaya mahal ko rin
On a different note, while writing this, I felt very
blessed to have a dad who not once ever told me that basketball isn’t for
girls. Or tried to ever tell me how I should behave as a girl. Umuuwi akong
amoy araw nung elementary pero okay lang sa kanya. I’m still a princess. Just
the kind who doesn’t smell like flowers and isn’t always squeaky clean. Hihi