GILAS Pilipinas opened its campaign in the FIBA World Cup over the weekend to heightened anticipation and overwhelming love and support from Filpinos here and the world over.
And they did not disappoint. A nail-biting game, which found the Croatians leading by as much as 15 points, Gilas made a soaring rally during the second half of the game forcing an overtime.
Croatia took the game, 81-78, but they were not the true winners of that night.
Gilas won that game, sending out a strong message to their opponents and the world – WE ARE NO PUSHOVERS.
They won the respect of the other World Cup teams while endearing themselves more to their kababayans. Even naturalized Filipino citizen Andray Blatche won over the pessimists that night.
In his Kwentong Gilas, Blatche shared, “The thing about coming here is I was never considered an outsider. The team and Filipinos look at me and think no differently. To them I am Filipino.”
And being Filipino means having a whole nation of vertically challenged but basketball-crazed fans cheering for you.
These cheers reverberated in the games against Greece and Argentina.
Once again, Gilas was unable to lock the wins down but not without forcing their opponents to give every ounce of effort to match or even outmatch the Filipinos’ show of strength and heart.
We have to win the next two games if we wish to advance to the next round.
But whether or not Gilas, indeed, advances, there is no doubt they have a nation cheering for them, proud to be called Filipinos because of an unwavering desire of the team to bring glory to the country.
In full contrast, the Baguio-Benguet Educational Athletic League formally opened their annual sports competition also over the weekend without much fanfare.
The event was held at the Cordillera Career Development College hosted by Baguio College of Technology with only La Trinidad Mayor Edna Tabanda as the government official present.
Even attendance of university and college higher-ranking officials was poor.
But this comes as no surprise.
We are a community which harps on and on about being sports oriented, focusing on sports development but without concrete actions to back up our mouths.
We question incentives given to athletes who have “made waves” abroad but fail to cause even a ripple in the hearts of those who are supposed to be responsible for their welfare.
Why not let our government officials, SCHOOL OFFICIALS (yes, you, too) and concerned stakeholders take the Athletic Bowl challenge?
We dare them to run its oval, shoot for the bull’s eye at the archery range, play tennis without stumbling on its uneven court and then finally take a dip in the freezing water of our short of an Olympic sized swimming pool.
Oh but they won’t.
But this won’t stop them from “feting” our winning athletes “in simple rites”, saying how proud they are of these disciplined warriors who have brought glory and honor to the community.
Service is an action word. The neglect our athletes has long been suffering is beyond us.
Minsan magpakitang gilas naman kayo. Not always pakitang tao.