Bautista: Around the world the ball is round

All in Good Time

IN FAIRNESS to any Juan, we are far better off than many years back when mere mention of a representation in the world stage for basketball was so far away. Asia alone was already farfetched when basketball was to be played. Powerhouse China and Iran were already hard to go against with. In Asean, no problem.

Today there’s even a qualifying that includes the Pacific with Australia and New Zealand. So you have to give it to Pilipinas Basketbol when we make it to the World Cup. In 2015 we were a surprise team and country to participate in Seville, Spain. In fact we were one of the popular teams to have won the hearts of many. Filipino fans and some were in fact adjudged the best fans any team could ever have that supported and cheered for Pilipinas Basketbol.

In this World Cup in China and as fate would have had it, we are for the second time in history a part of it. It was of course a difficult path to get to it. But we are here once more. While we may not have had on our side the luck of the draw, we are here. We will go against basketball powerhouse countries like Italy and number one seed Serbia.

While in Indonesia I was told that I would have to join the Philippine delegation to China right away. I had been told to secure a visa to China but hadn’t realized that it would coincide with another planned trip abroad. Immediately I had to change my flight schedule and cut my trip short. I arrive before midnight and found out that I had to be in the NAIA 1 after 5 hours upon arrival at NAIA 3.

But this is the World Cup and anything is possible. I just saw host China lose in overtime against Poland in capital Beijing. I also witnessed Philippines take the lead over top seed Serbia by 2 points even for just awhile. I might want to see Team USA being challenged for the first time in a long time.

I had just watched a game where Turkey lost the game to Team USA from the free throw line. Also China lost from the line. Well Team Philippines lost from good shooting from the line by Angola. Let’s give it to them. Anyway almost all teams today have naturalized players. We are just one of them.

I was fortunate to watch Bong Pascual from Baguio who was chosen for technical duties as referee in the bracket with Team USA. Wow. He was the ref during the Turkey vs USA game. The referees have a very difficult job too, every one hates them. Whatever team you cheer for.

Remember that these are the best teams in the world. There is not one surefire winner at the moment heading to the next round. I am for Serbia because they come from our bracket. It is that difficult to reach the next round. However it is only Serbia that would easily go to the second round.

These are the 32 of the best all playing it out. I couldn’t complain more of how we played. No matter how bad we are or how good they are, we are top 32 in the world. Last in Seville, we ended up 24 I would think, I can check up on that later. However the results this time, we still get to play in another division to finalize the world rankings.

I may have gone back home, but the rest of Gilas still stays for more games. There were also losers in the other brackets. We are just like them too. If we feel bad, they have it worse for them. Imagine host China with a billion plus cheering, and losing. Oh my, if we get this from our kababayans here or at home, what more for the Chinese basketball team.

What is important is that we are here. This is the World Cup of basketball. I just like President Duterte would have ruled out any chances of winning, I know what you will say, maybe he should not have said it, but just like me, I know our chances. I still am happy we are amongst the best in the world. I also get to watch and see everything unfold with my very eye.

I saw Germany, Canada, Italy, Russia and Greece with the Greek Freak lose too. If they find it difficult then who are we to complain about what results we have? Let’s be thankful we are a part of it. And like a ball the world is also round and anything can happen.

Host China joins us in the losers’ tournament. I hope we don’t get to be bracketed with them. I am however disappointed, as for now there is no Asian team to represent Asia in the next round. In our area it may only be the Kiwis and the Aussies playing better. Again, around the world the ball is always the same, it is, round.


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