For the Love of the Game

Gilas Pilipinas after winning the bronze medal in last year’s FIBA Asia tournament. Photo from philstar.com

The Philippines are back.

After a long absence from the FIBA World Cup, the Philippines have once again qualified for the prestigious tournament where in the best of the best in basketball will compete for Naismith Trophy and be labeled as the best in the world.

In last year’s FIBA Asia Tournament, the world realized that the Filipino’s love for basketball is more than the dunks and nice shoes. The world realized that the passion of the Philippines for basketball is greater than what they have previously thought. Oh don’t get me wrong, they know the sport is big here in the Philippines, but they never imagined that it is this big. The world didn’t know that we will battle through anything, not only in this sport but in life in general as well. You see, the heart and pride of the Filipinos are unbreakable. Finally, the world knows that even with the lack of height, we still make up for it with the sizes of our hearts. HEART OVER HEIGHT

Photo from philstar.com

Every Filipino has heart, has the courage to step up and fight for what they believe in. Filipinos believe that we are good enough to be one of the best in the world. I personally believe, Filipino players are one of the most skillful basketball players in the world. In basketball, what matters is that at the end of the day, the team that gets to shoot the ball more than the other wins.

Filipino players have very good basketball fundamentals and skills. If you think about it, when you fair up tall and athletic players to skillful players, the latter wins most of the time. When you combine passion, hardwork and skills then that is a recipe for success.

This is more than a game for us. Filipinos love basketball so much they can relate how they play the game to how they live their lives. Like what many have said throughout the recent years, “basketball is a religion in the Philippines”. That’s how big the sport is. Even NBA stars like Kobe Bryant, LeBron James and Kevin Durant now knows how big the sport is in the Philippines as they posted the popular photos of kids from the Philippines playing basketball after a storm destroyed their homes.

I truly admire the passion of our country for basketball. After everything the country has faced since August of last year, the super typhoons, the earthquakes, the international and local political issues, one thing is for sure and that is the support of the country for Gilas Pilipinas. Oh I won’t doubt them now after they proved everyone else wrong last year, there’s no time for doubts now. It’s time to show the love and support that they deserve.

FIBA WORLD CUP

Photo from FIBA.com

Here’s where we are right now.

The Philippines is grouped with Senegal, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Greece and Croatia in Group B. Group A is, in my opinion, is the most talented group with Spain, Serbia, France and Brazil. The tightest group is Group D where in all 6 of the teams can compete for a spot in the 2nd round. For the Philippines, we should be happy that Manu Ginobili won’t play for Argentina in this tournament but still it will be a long shot for the Filipinos to beat the Argentinians. However, it is possible for us to qualify for the next round, we just have to be in the top 4 of our group to qualify for the round of 16.

BASKETBALL IS A WAY OF LIFE

Photo from FIBA.com

The Filipinos won’t lack heart in competing against the world’s best and they won’t lack skill either. It will be fun to watch and learn how we fare up with other countries. I also can’t wait for the Philippines vs Rolando Balkman (Puerto Rico) match-up after Balkman’s banishment from the PBA. Moreover, the Philippines will play its group games in the Sevilla wherein a lot of Filipinos in Spain resides so you can expect a solid Pinoy crowd in the stands during Gilas games.

I can’t wait to watch Marc Pingris’ all out effort scrapping for rebounds and diving for loose balls or for the booming Jimmy Alapag threes, or the highlight dunks of Japeth Aguilar and Andray Blatche. We can certainly surprise some teams in our group, we can even say that we are the darkhorse in Group B. You can expect the whole country will be screaming “Laban Pilipinas! Puso” during the games. You can expect the bars in the country will be jam-packed with supporters wearing Gilas shirts and jerseys. You can even expect people waving Philippine flags after a Paul Lee 4-point play or Jason Castro coast-to-coast lay-up.

Photo from FIBA.com

In this coming August and September, the whole world will once again see the passion of Filipinos for this game on and off the court. The world will admire and respect Philippine basketball more because of this “Buwis buhay basketball” that we are trying to portray.

Our love for the game goes beyond the parameters of the hardwood floor, for us Filipinos it is much more than that.

You see, for us Filipinos, life and basketball – or any sport/job in general – is as close as it can be. We can relate with the hardships that will take for us to get what we want and be successful in our endeavours. For all of our lives, people have doubted us, have bullied us, have challenged us. But they can never take away our pride and our spirit. A Filipino’s heart is too big to just give up.

Photo from FIBA.com

“Whether it’s studying hard to be a doctor, recovering from an injury or training to be the best in your field, always remember: it’s not about how you start, its how you finish.”

This game that we also call life is all about proving the doubters wrong, proving ourselves to ourselves. This is about the challenges we have faced during the hard trainings in the court and the gruelling tragedies off of it. This is about carrying the spirit of the Filipino people after constant disappointments and hardships in our daily lives. This is about for the heroes who died for our freedom and for our new heroes who are working overseas, sacrificing for their families and their country. This is about the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed by our countrymen through these tough times and of our Gilas Pilipinas players during their training and being away from their families.

Photo from philstar.com

It’s all about conquering adversities and being the best that we can ever be in everything that we do.

Basketball for us Filipinos is all about the strength of the Filipino spirit. – Working, training, sacrificing, draining, bleeding, and losing. Living, learning, uniting, conquering, fighting, overcoming and winning…

For the love of the game.


GOOD LUCK GILAS! LABAN PILIPINAS! PUSO!

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5 comments on “For the Love of the Game

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