BACOLOD’S Jeff Chan could have been a hero and a byword for the country's basketball crazy fans if he made the last shot against Croatia with the score tied at 71-all on Saturday.
It did not fall as time expired and Gilas Pilipinas went down with plenty of pride and "Puso," 78-81 in the extension against the much-taller and heftier Croatians.
If the referee called a foul on Jason Castro William's desperate heave which made Coach Chot Reyes holler in protest, it could have been a different ending.
But as fate had it, despite faith, the prayers and novenas of a united Filipino communities all over the world, we watched with sympathy mixed with joy as our national team lose its first game in the 2014 Fiba World Cup in Spain.
Gilas may have lost two games in a row (our third against Argentina being played as of press time) but the Croats and the Greeks have taken notice of the Filipinos’ great performance.
Now the Europeans are asking, where did these bunch of fearless, never-say-die, gritty and brave brown-colored players come from. They must have missed us for so long and they thought we don't belong to the game of the giants.
Pilipinas is playing David against the Goliaths of the sport and we will be very lucky to win over Puerto Rico and Senegal. If we upset Scola and the Argentinians, we might just extend the luck again in our last two games.
Even the tricycle drivers inside a Barangay Bata makeshift coffee shop near Acropolis (where I was stranded) were aghast after that shot of Jeff missed his mark. To think that Chan's triple and Andre Blatche's own surprised the Croatians, the "sikad experts" thought we could win that one.
It was just unfortunate that Gilas missed that opportunity which could have catapulted us in the Fiba ranking and gave MVP and all its PHL supporters the ecstasy of winning in a world meet.
Whatever will be the outcome of Gilas' trip to Spain, we knew that the basketball world is yet open for us to conquer. Preparing for 30 days before the meet may not be enough.
Perhaps if we could muster enough courage and cooperation to form a team and prepare long enough and add more height, we could not just surprise the favorites but also hit them hard enough with one stone.