I stayed home to tune in on Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, pitting the San Miguel Beermen against crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings. As you well know, basketball remains as the number one sport in the Philippines. Quite ironic since basketball is a game of giants and the average height of a typical Filipino male is about 5’7 or 5’8. Still, you can find a basketball court or ring, on every corner of the Philippines. Some far flung places may not have electricity or means of telecommunications, but you can bet your bottom dollar that there will be teams of 5, barefoot or in slippers, battling for supremacy in the basketball hardcourt, or off the streets.
True enough, only basketball can amass a crowd of over 15,000 rowdy spectators in one venue, chanting one mantra, GI-NE-BRA! GI-NE-BRA! The magic of the Ginebra franchise goes way back to the days of playing coach and erstwhile senator, Robert “Big J” Jaworski. The Ginebra/Anejo team was notorious for its ragtag kind of play and never say die attitude. It amazes me that this team has lived true to this character over the years, though personnages have changed constantly. But once they don the Ginebra jersey, they seem to be possessed by the ghosts of Ginebra teams past. Probably it also helps that the whole stadium/coliseum/arena, filled with Ginebra diehards, is right behind them, screaming at the top of their lungs.
I remember that we were tasked to deliver a speech during our Communications class back at U.P., with a free hand on what we wished to speak about. Being the basketball fanatic that I am, I chose to speak on how basketball mirrors the Filipino psyche, and how it defines the Filipino way of life. The required attire I recall was corporate chic. So I wore a dress, but had a basktball in my hand as my only prop. It totally ruined my outfit, by the way! I then went on, saying that basketball showed how the Filipino loved the underdog, why the entire Filipino nation goes crazy over Barangay Ginebra, in whichever standing the team finds itself in. It’s funny to observe that while many say that Filipinos are never loyal but fickleminded, they never sway in their loyalties for Ginebra. Another thing that will dispel this observation, is that, despite the fact that we are rather ill-placed in the sport of basketball, being of average height and brawn, we continue to strive for recognition as one of the forces to reckon with in the sport.
My father would often say that an effective brand of management, or even in running a government is to replicate how a basketball coach runs his basketball team. The team would be under strict supervision during practices, listening no end to the coach’s constant reminders. But when gametime strikes, the players are left alone to do their own thing and the coach is anxious if indeed the players will execute, as instructed. Maybe this is the magic formula for the Philippines to pick up on economic recovery. All the country needs is to choose the coach that they pledge to follow.
After all these thoughts running through my mind, I was happy to find that Ginebra lost, the Beermen winning by a close margin. I was rooting for San Miguel, being a longtime fan of the franchise. Heck, it was already hard playing in a championship but even harder, winning it against Ginebra and majority of the crowd rooting against you.
So far, it is a series well fought, but I’d love to see Ginebra lose🙂 Go San Miguel!