UAAP Season 74 Thoughts

OK I know this is late, but its better than kicking myself for not writing about the Finals when I had the chance, so here goes:

Disappointing

Mind you I’m not disappointed at the season, nor the league. I’m only particularly disappointed at FEU for coming over half – ready to face ADMU. Clearly ADMU had always been the superior team. It’s almost as if they’re the only ones who came to the party to dance, and when I say party I mean the whole season, not just the Finals, while everyone else just sat at the tables looking on. Knowing and accepting that, I still can’t believe that any UAAP team cannot at least give them a good fight in at least one game, maybe even steal one the way AdU did.

ADMU demolished FEU from the 2nd quarter onwards, and from thereon FEU just seemed to accept their fate. I can’t accept that. I don’t believe it isn’t possible to put up some sort of fight, some sort of run sparked by good defense and maybe bunch up a series of points to get it going. It just doesn’t compute. In fact it makes me a little angry to be honest. That wasn’t basketball. That was giving up.

What I Hope People Take From This

Winning and doing so on a consistent basis means only one thing. That ADMU has the best College basketball program in the UAAP. It doesn’t necessarily mean they are the best school, or the best fans, or are more favored by God or whatever. It just only means they have the best basketball program in the country.
That basketball program takes a lot of will, time and money to get going plus concentrated efforts from every sector. The people who run ADMU, the coaches, the staff, the Alumni, etc. It wasn’t too long ago when ADMU was down in the dumps in UAAP Men’s basketball. Their winning now is a reflection on their decision to say ‘enough!’, and buckle down to business. Clearly they have done what was needed to do and are now enjoying the fruits of it.

That’s all it’s about really. Winning is a ‘by-product’ of a much larger collaborative effort. It is the surface of an iceberg of aggregated work by what might be thousands of people over an extended period of time. What we see on TV is only the culmination of these efforts, while the people involve in it see it for what it is: years of work coming together. As such they enjoy it most, and deserve what they get.

The Future

Any good basketball program, once you’ve got it going, becomes greater than the sum of its parts and becomes a life on its own. The best players will want to play at the best program for example, so while the seniors will be graduating, there will be no shortage of new, fresh talent coming in, with hardly the need for recruiting. There will be no shortage of coaches as well, and especially sponsors, who will grant them anything they want to keep the program fed, happy, and consistently winning championships (and conveniently pushing their products while at it).

ADMU’s challenge is to just keep on winning, which should be easy considering that every parent with a talented kid is probably banging on their doors hoping for a try out. And as long as they keep Coach Black and staff around it’s just a matter of staying the course.

The big challenge is for the other teams to get their acts together to follow that winning formula. There’s a whole lot of overhyped talk about ‘heart’ whenever people talk about basketball, but I’ve always believed that in terms of forming a competitive team is concerned, heart is most needed not on the court but outside of it, in the meeting rooms and the restaurants and the offices, places where the Coaches and school owners and alumni talk about getting the resources needed to get a good program going. If these guys fail, then their teams will not attract good talent, they will not have enough money and quality personnel to buy equipment, rent gyms, participate in tune up games in other leagues, etc. In other words, do what you need to do to form a good team.

Without putting in that collective effort, money and time to do this, you’ll just be signing up your team for it to get massacred next year. That’s about as simple as I can break it down to.

Reflections On Yet Another Year Of UAAP Basketball

It has always been the height of irony for me to observe that Filipinos love basketball, a sport which emphasizes the collective far and above that of the individual. Because if nothing else, Filipinos are very individualistic. Our country suffers from so many divisions. We are divided by class, divided by regional loyalties, we can’t even agree on religious beliefs re reproductive health even if most of us are the same religion. As a result many of us feel disattached if not distrusting with one another, and even prefer to quit the country to live abroad, deciding quite justly that all things being equal, we’d rather be with strangers abroad in a better economy that with strangers here and poor.

Basketball’s shine is that it displays individual players in such glorious light, as if all victory to be achieved in that sport is up to that one person. That is why it is so irresistable to the individual. The idea of spectacular glory for oneself seems attainable in this sport. After all that’s what NBA heroes sell, right? Kobe takes the winning shots. MJ’s presence makes or breaks a team. When the going gets rough, you go to THE MAN, right? He and only he will get you the W.

And that is the greatest irony of all, because basketball like soccer or any other team sport requires so many people to work together, a concept foreign to the everyday Pinoy. Not even counting the people outside the court, the game itself involves 5 people and 1 ball, which means to score a point it needs to get passed around and *gasp* shared.

Of all the things UAAP Basketball should be for, I was hoping that it would be to spread that underlying lesson in team games. That for us to get things done, we actually have to trust each other, which means we have to accept each other and dissolve whatever’s keeping us apart.

I’ve felt this way for a long time and it’s come to a point where I watch the UAAP every year in hoping anticipation that this year, finally, that message would be shared. I was hoping people would finally GET IT. I don’t know if I’ll ever quantifiably know if it does. But if at least a few young people did then I suppose this was a good year.

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