Remember the time we ditched Team Pilipinas for the Philippine Azkals?

 

I would rather see Gilas Pilipinas lose to Korea, Lebanon, and hell… even Kazakhstan than see them squeak out a win against Thailand.

 

No offense to Thailand… but I don’t even care if they have Tyler Lamb by their side. The only way the Philippines would lose to any ASEAN country is if they do it via boycott… or if there’s blatant cheating.

 

And when I say blatant… I mean seal the goal with fiber glass.

 

Hahaha.

 

Boo.

 

Gilas Pilipinas fell to seventh in the recently-concluded 2017 FIBA Asia Cup… and all the haters went racing to their keyboards and for some reason, learned a thing or two about coaching. Filipinos are passionate about basketball even if the sport isn’t as passionate with our success.

 

There are a lot of bold internet users trying to tell the basketball chiefs on how to run our basketball body. My favourites include the creation of a full-time basketball team, the sacking of Chot Reyes, his dribble drive offense, and the entire Gilas Pilipinas program, and then there’s that thing in which he enlist the services of Korean, Chinese, and Iranian coaches to get an inside take on their basketball program.

 

My favourite amongst the rants is our realization that basketball is not the sport for Filipinos. We can play with passion all the time but if we continue to have the isolation play as our default, to turn gunshy because for years we are conditioned that the import is the de facto star player, and rant about our lack of size compared to our opponents because our size is best suited for billiard players, then we can never succeed in basketball.

 

So now what… time to switch allegiances to the Philippine Azkals?

 

I guess it’s nearly a decade ago when the country turned their attention to football. With the help of Phil and James Younghusband, Neil Etheridge, Chieffy Caligdong, and a slew of others, the country rose to 20 spots in 2006 after recording a country’s worst 191 rank a year before. Right now, the Philippines are seven points less than our 2016 rank… which is 120. Our 2016 rank is the highest-recorded rank we obtained since 1993.

 

When football frenzy hit the country, there was a time when basketball really took a backseat. This all changed with the formation of Smart-Gilas. Even at that point though, the Azkals were losing their appeal due to coaching changes… and really the fact that we are so used to see scores in high digits that waiting for goals became tiresome.

 

The Younghusband brothers are in their 30s now. Ditto for Stephan Schrock. You probably heard of the names of Etheridge and Simon Greatwich but you’re probably looking for a bunch of names like Rob Gier, Aly Borromeo, Anton del Rosario, Ed Sacapano, and Ian Araneta.

 

The last three games of the Azkals are as follows: a win over Tajikistan, four goals to three… an eyeball-popping loss to China, eight goals to one… and a win over Nepal, four goals to one. Javier Patino had two goals in the Tajikistan match with Phil Younghusband and Daisuke Sato scoring one goal apiece. Misagh Bahadoran scored the only goal in the China match in what is said to be “simply embarrassing”. Months prior, Phil had two goals with Patino and Iain Ramsey scoring in the Nepal match.

 

The Azkals are fighting for spots for the 2019 AFC Asian Cup… like how Gilas Pilipinas is playing for pride and honor for the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers. The Philippines is scheduled to face Yemen on September 5 in Bacolod and then would fly to Yemen for the October 10 match. On November 14, the Azkals would renew their rivalry over Nepal.

 

I am not citing the Philippine Azkals as a punch line. Rather, I want the Gilas Pilipinas haters to shuttle their appreciation to football. While it would be better to support both sports with the same passion, I never really liked the idea of multi-tasking. Why exert effort on hating our brand of basketball if there is a proactive way to gear emotions towards another sport? Manny Pangilinan also shells out cash for the sport. In fact, he made a league for it and even placed its operations in Bacolod since this is more of the sport’s hotbed compared to Metro Manila. And I guess the best thing here is that you will grow with the squad. Even if Philippine football was introduced in 1907, it never had the popularity of basketball.

 

Gilas Pilipinas is not a perfect program.

 

So maybe it’s time for a couple of disheartened basketball fans to appreciate football.

 

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