Friday, June 10, 2011

Basketball and a change of heart

The Philippines is basketball country.

Makeshift courts exist in busy streets, parking lots, barangay halls, and neighborhoods both of the rich and poor. Everyone knows how the game is played.

Basketball players are local heroes. They get elected into various government posts. They sign movie and TV deals. They appear in advertisements. Play good basketball, and you're almost sure you'll make it to stardom.

Basketball is the subject of prime time news and is undoubtedly the unofficial national sport.

"But why do you enjoy it so much?" I would ask my friends who are basketball fans. I simply couldn't understand all the fuss. I felt that the sport bordered on being barbaric, as opposed perhaps to tennis, which I found quiet, elegant, and serene. Pushing and shoving people to get your way into the ring didn't appeal to me. On tv, basketball games tend to look rowdy and noisy. It wasn't my thing.

IMG_1661Not that I detested it, of course. I cheered for Johnny Abarrientos of Alaska when they fought against the powerful Ginebra Team in the 90's. After that, my interest for basketball dwindled. I had no idea who were playing in the PBA or NBA. I even thought LeBron was a French player.

But as people grow up, their interests change. Because my father and my brother, Sean, are basketball fans, and because we only have a single working TV at home, I was forced to watch the 2011 NBA Finals. And I began to see what the fuss was all about.

Basketball is extremely fast-paced, with players going back and forth from one court to the other, especially when a team steals the ball from the other, as Jason Kidd often likes to do.

It is unpredictable; a ten-point lead in the third quarter isn't an assurance of victory. It relies strongly on good coaching, since time-outs, when called at the proper time, can turn the game around.

It is also like a story, with the climax at the last few minutes of the fourth quarter, where any team, assuming the scores don't differ that much, can snatch the game or end up with a tie, only to have the game extended.

Some players also stand out, and I find it interesting to look at how they react when they're fouled or injured or when they score a three-point shot with the trajectory looking like a rainbow. (I'm reminded of Dirk Nowitzki in today's game five.) The game is a test of one's resolve, and it reveals portions of a man's character.

So all those bad things I said about basketball—I was wrong.

And, on Game Six of the NBA Finals between Miami Heat and Dallas Mavericks, I shall be watching closely. I'll be cheering for Dallas, of course, and for the giant Dirk Nowitzki. Sadly I don't know much yet; I've only been acquainted with a few players, mostly from the two competing teams. But I'm slowly getting there.

4 comments:

  1. I'm really more of a volleyball fan; I try to follow UAAP women's volleyball as religiously as possible. I emerge from my no-longer-a-basketball-fan cocoon only during the NBA Finals. Yeah, I can ride the waves of popularity like that. :p

    Go Dallas! Go Dirk! :D

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  2. Hey Kuya!

    Basketball is truly in the blood of the Filipinos. Di masyado halata,In every barangay a basketball court is a must.

    I recommend you read Rafe Bartholomew's Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in flip-flops and the Philippines' unlikely Love affair with basketball. It's a good read!

    May God bless you more. :)

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  3. Abby, so Dallas did win, after all!

    Maya, thanks for the book recommendations. Are they available at National Bookstore?

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  4. may ara na kuya, the paperback edition came out few weeks ago. :)

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