Yet Another Wake Up Call

Smart Gilas is a team that had been playing together for quite some time now, only recently coming back from tournaments abroad. RP Powerade Team Pilipinas in contrast is composed of pro players who hadn’t played together because they had no reason to.

So lo and behold, when I went to Araneta last Monday to watch the game, I saw a Smart Gilas team that looked like they had been playing together for quite some time now, only recently coming back from tournaments abroad. In contrast, RP Powerade Team Pilipinas looked like they were composed of pro players who hadn’t played together because they had no reason to.

Two important things come to mind.

First of all are the donations in cash and kind delivered to typhoon Ondoy victims. Before the games even started a reported 1.3 million was donated not counting other six figure amounts from separate entities both corporate and individual. Winning and losing teams also get to donate P100k and P50k respectively in their names, then there were shoes, clothes and other donations plus ticket proceeds from the people who went to watch.

I watched myself, and living in Cainta I know these are sorely needed. I had to pass by Marikina on my way to Cubao and it is (and continues to be), not a pretty sight. Garbage is strewn everywhere, and particularly at an area across SM Marikina near the LRT station a dumpsite has risen out of nowhere, and by God it is horrible to look at. Even in the airconditioned LRT high above the stink gets to you.

I can’t help thinking that if these benefit games bring such success to donation efforts, that shouldn’t there be more of the same? I’d actually go to another one if held on the same premise, and bring more shoes next time. I didn’t get a chance to ask my nieces and nephews to donate clothes for lack of time.

Anyway, here’s my 2nd point.

I understand Powerade lost due to unpreparedness, and so do fellow ball bloggers Jaemark, j_myxx and NeekoBoi of Patayangbutiki and Toff Rada, whom I had the pleasure of making the acquaintance of after the games.

The problem however, is that a great number of fans do not share this sentiment. To them, a game is a game, and seeing their PBA idols thrashed by 29 points by the likes of youngsters Ababou, Tiu, Casio, Giles and most especially, Aguilar literally turns their worlds upside down.

In light of this, I therefore declare this game to be a PBA Public Relations Catastrophe of the highest order. I’d say 90% of PBA fans out there are the rabid, ‘never say die’ loyalist types who stick to their idols thru and thru. They don’t really care much of Xs and Os. They don’t understand them to be humans who require time to play as a team together before playing games. They’re probably not even cognizant of Smart Gilas’ absolutely superb, highly disciplined offensive sets that consistently left a shooter open at the wing no matter how tough the defense. Ok, getting beaten abroad may be acceptable, given they didn’t know how well the foreigners were going to play anyway. But beaten by these College kids? College kids who, by PBA standards, would’ve probably ended up on the bench?

That’s not to say this isn’t a good thing though. Of course it is. If we can get the PBA to wake up and realize that aping the NBA game is contributing to its waning popularity then I’m all for it. Sadly, we can’t even get the PBA to admit it’s waning at all, let alone adapt a new style of play. Changing their playing style I suspect, is akin to admitting that you are wrong which is anathema to the Pinoy macho psyche, so nix to that.

But at any rate, there it is. You, dear reader, already know Powerade lost because they weren’t prepared, basketball genius that you are (and reading this blog proves you are ;). Most of those out there, however, don’t. By mere gauging of the crowd’s sentiment while I watched at Araneta last Monday, they were not pleased bordering on shocked and angry. I mean sure it’s just a benefit game, and yeah they may have been undermanned, unprepared, yada yada yada. But a loss is a loss and at 29 pts I’m sure it’s sent the typical PBA fan reeling. What comes next is the PBA’s call. Always had been, really, and we’ve been waiting for it quite awhile.