BACOLOD—It is common to see players become unwitting goats by missing free throws that matter most.

It’s understood.

Usually, at crunch time, when the game’s outcome is on the line, nerves set in. The player at the stripe, like Atlas, has the world on his shoulders.

He gets rattled more often than not. All the pressure is heavily stacked against him once he realizes the enormity of the task at hand.

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When the going gets tough, the tough gets going? Yes, maybe. But, historically, no one’s tough enough as to consistently succeed in bailing his team out of trouble.

There’s just too many of them suddenly collapsing like dominoes when put on the spot.

In the NBA, there’s Wilt & Shaq, if not Howard the Superman.

So often did Shaq miss game-winning free throws that soon, the “Hack The Shaq” phrase was coined to illustrate the importance of sending the Man Mountain to the charity line.

As sure as the sun sets in the west, each trip to the stripe that Shaq would have will give the opposing team handsome chances of grabbing a win from the jaws of defeat.

It was that way then even when he was with Miami and Los Angeles, it is still that way today now that Shaq is with Cleveland.

In the PBA, it used to be Sonny Cabatu.

So often did Cabatu miss game-winning free throws that soon, he got the demeaning moniker, “Kabadu.”

In short, the free-throw shooter either wins it or blows it.

Mostly, many win games by tossing in free throws. But listen up, fellers. Others win games by missing free throws.

That’s what Kerby Raymundo did on Friday, miss a free throw to ensure victory No. 2 for Purefoods and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-7 PBA Finals between Alaska and Purefoods for the KFC-PBA Philippine Cup.

After sinking his first of two free throws off a foul by Joe Devance, Raymundo, upon signal from Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio, deliberately missed his second charity. But, of course.

There was but 1.8 seconds left in the game, Purefoods up, 86-85.

During the rebound scramble after Raymundo’s “miss,” the game-ending buzzer sounded, allowing Purefoods to escape with the win.

You toss in some, you miss some.

Ryan G’s coaching savvy, it is also called.

(alsol47@yahoo.com)