FIBA WORLD CUP 2013: A TESTAMENT TO OUR LOVE OF BASKETBALL
By: Maan “Maggie” Villar, The World According to Maggie V
The world stops in the Philippines when there is a Manny Pacquiao fight: there is no traffic, the malls are less crowded, streets are less congested and you can actually sit in the train and buses and in the small neighborhoods and barangays, young and old are cloistered and glued to their television sets – cajoling, shouting and betting. The same scenario was true for the FIBA 2013 World Cup where almost everyone held their breaths as we hosted the games, hoping that doubts of us being hosts would not come to life and that we hear commendations and good tidings from our neighbors.
The peak came when standard-bearer SMART-Gilas was pitted against the giants of Iran’s team. The social networks were flooded with well-wishes, updates and cheers for the local team and comments on Iran’s Hadadi’s enormity. Iran was indeed competition despite the fact that their A-sport is soccer. Philippines emerged as a successful FIBA Asia team with a silver medal for this year sans Kelly Williams and Asi Taulava – Japeth Aguilar took on the center stage like David against the Goliath which is Hadadi. To date, our country is still the most successful FIBA Asia team for having the most gold medals. Although China and Korea are making ruckus in the basketball world, they only became successful recently. We could trace our long-standing success in basketball to the great influence of Western culture and that we had national leagues earlier than everybody else. Although losing in the finals, Gilas made it to the Olympics which gives us something greater to look forward to as we again showcase our basketball acumen to the world stage – it may even be a blessing in disguise that we lost the finals as we didn’t even make the cut for the Olympics last time.
The whole world may find it odd that given our short built and other physical characteristics said to be apt for soccer rather than basketball, we take pride in being probably the only country in our continent in love with basketball. Yes, we are making our mark in football, but a Filipino can never forget its first love. If you ask some of our fellows what our national sport is, some of them would respond BASKETBALL, sometimes despite knowing what the national sport is, it comes out au natural. It driven us to the edge of our seats once more but we proved and prided our nation that despite objections and dissent, our passion and inherent love for the sport could lead us to greater places. And, just an answer to recent developments and issues, the P1 million grant of our government is well-deserved; they did work hard for it and represented our country well.