"I am a Filipino, first and foremost".
Jose Bayani Baylon
The quote above was his reply during a podcast interview when asked the question, why he would lend his star players to the national team
Love for basketball, aside from Manny Pacquiao, is the identifying feature that most foreigners use to describe the Philippines. Our premier league, the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA), is the flag bearer that represents this unique feature and it is my hope and prayer that the next commissioner of the PBA should not only be concerned about the fate of the corporations (SMCs or the MVPs) that are a part of the league, but the fate of Philippine basketball in the world stage.
Call me an idealist or a dreamer but i still have to cling on to the dream that, despite all our differences, we stand together against the world.
Last September, right after the FIBA World Cup, I remember listening to a Marc Pingris interview on The Bro Show. And when he was asked if he wished things were done differently, with great difficulty (because I bet he knew that to speak against his team/corp/league would result to fines and backlash) he made his opinion known that if only Gilas had been given more time to prepare, without the stress of wear and tear of their bodies they could have done alot better than just the 1 Win.
Kasi kitang kita naman...kaya eh. Nagkulang lang sa dulo. Pero kung mas matagal sana ang preparasyon, especially na kasama si Andrey Blatche.... diba? who knows how much farther we could have gone.
But we just had to have 3 conferences, didn't we? Even if it was shortened, the stress on the bodies of the players who made it to the playoffs and even finals, made them brittle.
Because the league, ultimately had to still be the priority not the nation.
And this is where Boss JB comes in.
We now have the possibility of hosting the FIBA World Cup. Can we, this time, have a PBA Commissioner that will put the PHILIPPINES as the #1 priority, and the Basketball Association as #2?
How do I know he won't succumb to the pressures of SMC-MVP franchises?
Baylon’s longtime aide-de-camp Jon Sacro bared that after their stint at Coke, offers to move to two high-profile PBA teams were surprisingly turned down by his boss.
“Inalok yan si boss JB ng dalawang teams, kaso sabi tinanggihan niya. Hindi dahil sa ayaw niya yung trabaho, kasi ayaw niya na magkasamaan ng loob ang dalawang companies,” said Sacro. (click to see whole article)
A man who grew up within the UP system (elem, high school, and college), who tells stories of assisting high ranking politicians during their rise to fame, but chooses to walk away from a high paying job because his principles cant stand the fact that the team that he called family, was being screwed. He wanted no part in that.
Why do I have so much faith in him? Three years ago, I was fortunate to be one of the fans who he approved to be his Facebook friend. I was able to witness the projects he shares on his timeline and the high profiled people he calls friends.
He who raise funds for the Philippine General Hospital, and brings iMacs to Rio Tuba, who organizes disaster relief efforts for Guian in Samar (after Yolanda), and just recently, was instrumental in the successful hosting of the PBA All-Star weekend in Palawan.
He shows that he has a heart that sees basketball players as human beings and not figures in the income statement. He has personal mission to help this nation rise again despite the corrupt culture of our government.
He is well loved by all the players that he has handled in his years as a PBA Governor for Coca-Cola/Powerade.
“Boss JB is a known tactician, he always has ready answers to every problem. He’s been one of my advisers and what I like about him is his ability to balance the interests of everyone,” - Asi Taulava
Finally, he has the brains, experience, and personal connections to successfully pull it off.
He has never given me any reason to question his love for the motherland. And hopefully, in putting the nation first, he can, through basketball, piece the fragmented sections of our country together via our love for basketball.
Click to DOWNLOAD the podcast of his interview
Please make the next Commissioner have the same "PUSO" that sacrifices personal gain and corporate glory for national pride. Please choose Sir JB Baylon.
It hurts… but that proves that #PUSO was involved all along.
I write this after reading the response of Marc Pingris and Ranidel de Ocampo gave in defense of Coach Chot Reyes to his bashers, which resulted from fateful losses during the Asian Games against Iran, Qatar, and Korea. I write this because, just like the rest of the Filipino nation, I couldn’t keep quiet anymore.
When Nikko Ramos wrote those articles a few weeks ago, I found myself crying as I was reading them. In trying to console himself, he ended consoling the rest of the nation after those losses during the FIBA World Cup. Using the Filipino language, he sketched a picture so real that he convinced most of us that that one win against Senegal was enough.
But that is not the case anymore, is it? Unlike the FIBA World Cup where we were against the giants, we were now back in our home territory, against opponents that we’ve beaten before. And we KNEW that it was possible… and that’s what hurts. Whenever we watched Gilas Pilipinas play, our dream of winning the Asian Games always came within grasp, only to be cruelly taken away with each loss. Most of us were just watching on TV, helpless to do anything about it.
It’s the people closest to you that hurt you the most. It’s the ones who’ve been granted access into our heart that has the power to rip it apart. We love this team. We’ve taken them into our hearts just like they’ve taken us into their hearts. But despite what we may think and feel at this time, Coach Chot and the team did not ever intend to break our hearts. But in this bashing, WE are intentionally breaking theirs.
And though the Filipino heart gained the respect and admiration of the basketball community during the FIBA World Cup, and we were even awarded as being the best fans in the world by FIBA, it is through this experience that Coach Chot, the players of Gilas Pilipinas and their families are showing the world just how resilient, compassionate, and forgiving the Filipino heart is. They may be bashed by their own people, but they would still give their all, to play for that name which is written in the front of their jerseys.
Thank you Coach Chot, Cap Jimmy, Kuya Marcus, Gary, Ping, Ranidel, Jeff, Gabe, LA, Jared, Paul, Junmar, and Japhet. Thank you boss MVP, Coach Norman, Coach Tab, Coach Jong, and Boss Aboy (and the rest the team). I may not be able to do much, but I’d like to say this prayer for you all.
I pray that You be with you Coach Chot, Cap Jimmy, Kuya Marcus, Sir Gary, Ping, Ranidel, Jeff, Gabe, LA, Jared, Paul, Junmar, and Japhet and their families as they go through this difficult time where it seems that the very nation that they have sacrificed so much for, is the one driving the nails into their hearts with the criticisms and ridicules. Please grant them strength and comfort, bring them peace in the knowledge that You yourself was ridiculed by Your own people when You were here in on earth, yet You still chose to sacrifice yourself for them (and us). And in the end, give them the assurance that everything they have done for the Filipino nation is not in vane.
Bless them, Lord. Mend their hearts that were broken by the cruel and hurtful words that being thrown at them. Heal their tired and battered bodies so that they may come back healthy and whole and play in the PBA again.
And please, Lord, if it is possible, help us also to realize that our words on social media are actually more powerful and far-reaching than in real life. We should be more careful with the words that we speak, for we can never retrieve them once they have been spoken/posted.
Please help us appreciate the fact that Gilas Pilipinas has shown that for Filipinos, basketball is more than just a sport to rejoice or fume over. To us, it is a powerful catalyst that could be and has been used in unifying this fragmented society. Please help us to fight the norm of tearing each other down and use it instead to build each other up.
Thank You for the assurance that You would forgive us and love us no matter what.
All these things I ask, in the loving of Your Son and our Savior Jesus Christ, I pray,
Page 195. I only got to page 195.
Last December 11, 2012, Rafe covered Manny Pacquiao's defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez in Las Vegas. The resulting article painted an article so graphic, that I had to ask Carlo Pamintuan (who was also covering the fight) about it. I merely mentioned him in my tweet, and this was his reply.
It was only after this that I actually became curious about this Tagalog tweeting person who most of the PBA sports journalists (some of who had become friends of mine) were friends with. I researched all I could about Rafe Bartholomew .only to find out that he had actually written a book on Philippine basketball entitled Pacific Rims: Beermen Ballin' in Flip-Flops and the Philippines' Unlikely Affair with Basketball. So I ordered a copy from Amazon for $9.00 (only to later find out that is was actually being sold in most National Bookstores in the Philippines). The book took around 3 months to get to me (there's a complicated reason for that), so in the meantime, I scoured the web for book reviews, podcasts, video uploads on youtube... anything on Rafe Batholomew and Pacific Rims.
By the time I finally got to read the book, I had already built a mental image of who Rafe was. An uber white-boy, an American who came on a Fulbright scholarship to study Pinoy hoops and ended up embracing a culture that was so different from his own. This book, Pacific Rims, held all the details of how he came to be "ONE OF US".
Back to page 195. ...
I had now gone through half of the hilarious experiences that he chose to include into his book. I had just finished laughing my ass off when he described his unique pants-dropping experience in Boracay, when he began to describe another part of his life while living here in the Philippines.
Then, with a few paragraphs on page 195, Rafe showed us how he had become part of the Xavierville community. He had kids that sat on his lap. He knew the tricycle drivers by name. He even became honorary godfather to one of their daughters. As I read through this section, I just knew that unlike so many other foreigners, fil-ams, fil-foreigns that come and visit this country, this man had somehow fallen in love with the Philippines. In the three years he spent here, he embraced all the positives and negatives of a culture so different from his own and it brought tears to my eyes because I knew that like the millions of OFWs who have to go back to their places of work after a brief visit home, he'd be heartbroken when he boards that plane, but unlike them, he'd actually be going home.
(Fortunately, he doesn't end the book that way so I was spared the waterworks that was sure to come if it had. )
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NOTE OF THANKS....
Dear Tio Paeng...
The crowd was quiet except for the occasional scream from the sidelines.
One team looked fresh with a skip in their step. Their passes quick and crisp, their movements were a lot and their game plays were intact. They had been waiting for a couple of hours to see who would be opponent in this semi-finals match, and they were able to get a blazing start, outscoring their opponent 16-2 within the first five minutes.
The other team was dripping with sweat, their feet were dragging, their faces tense. They had just played 3 must-win games that day, and this was their 4th game in 6 hours. It seemed that they were trying to wring out any drop of energy from an already empty gas tank but in vane.
I was sitting right beneath the ring with a couple of new South American friends, Kenneth Mayr from Chile, Ariel Alurralde from Argentina, Maria Romero from Colombia, and Luana Bomfin from Brazil, who were getting a first hand demonstration of just serious Filipinos take the game of basketball. And though I was cheering loudly in the previous games, I could barely clap in this one. Why? Let me back up a bit so I can explain it better.
I was with members of the AIIAS Youth attending the conference-wide sports festival in the Bulacan Sports Complex last August 25-26, 2013. Our church was assigned to organized the teams for basketball and volleyball just a couple of months before, and most of the players were people I had grown up with... friends who I had known for more than half my life, and to an certain extent, could call my brothers and sisters.
I've been a fan of basketball ever since I could remember, but this last year, I've had the rare experience of transitioning from being just a mere TV spectator of the PBA into one that actually watches live games, organizes a fan club, administers the official fan page, chats with sports journalists, and even being invited to exclusive team events. But despite all these, I KNOW that what I feel for the players and the team does not come close to that of their wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters, where the main worry and prayer was not the WIN, but the safety of their loved ones on the court.
During this two-day tournament, the specific system used was double elimination and it has been arranged in such a way that a team can still survive with 1 loss, but the moment they loss a second time, they're already as good as eliminated. Our team lost their first game during the first day (and I have a specific OPINION on why that happened), but due to the rain, they weren't able to play any more games that day. On the second day, they knew that aside from the fact they couldn't afford to loose a game, they needed to play each game one after the other. It was during this specific tournament that I temporarily got to experience something similar to what the players' relatives feel because those who were battling on the court were guys I considered to be my brothers.
The first game during that second day was a blowout, the 2nd wasn't that difficult too. But it was that 3rd game that took the most out of them. The heat that permeated the whole area, the infuriating elbows, arms, knees, and feet that were strategically placed to produce the most pain, and most of all, the exasperating non-calls of "FIBA" sanctioned referees when the said body parts were used, that were present in that quarterfinals match, were major usurpers of the remaining energy they should have reserved for the next game. The scene of players by-passing the bench and sitting straight on the floor with their backs leaning on fence was becoming more and more frequent on our team... and curiously, so was the occurrence of opponents suddenly cramping up in the middle of the court, with refs needing to calling a technical time-out so that the player could be substituted.
By the third game, I was already standing in the sidelines, with a large crowd of spectators, most of whom seemed to be rooting for our team because of the various anomalies they saw happening in that game. Players of the other teams who were already eliminated were making comments like... "paki sub naman ung isang ref, nanood lang eh" (replace the ref, because he is not doing anything) and "madumi talaga maglaro yun" (that guy is really a dirty player) and the like. These comments together with the none-call hard blow Kervey Punay took to his stomach which forced him to be sidelined prompted our coach and our church pastor to talk to the officials before the end of the first half. Even going as far as to say that we would video tape the plays to show them just what was really going on. In the second half, the officiating cleaned up and our team revved up the defense and turned it into a game of fast breaks, piling up points ensuring a win, but expending a lot of energy by the time it ended. They had been playing since right after lunch and it was already 6:00pm.
The players were given 10-15 minutes to before their 4th straight game which also was the semi-finals. Clinton Punay was one of the players who just sat down on the floor for a moment but suddenly started cramping up. After getting his legs massaged and taken care of, they got ready for the next game. Their opponent had been watching them for the last 2 games... and had the advantage of rest as well as "scouting". They knew their game plan.
I joined Ariel and Kenneth under the ring, and we were joined by Maria and Luana. The ring we were under was where the opponent was shooting during the 1st half, so we got really close to the really physical rebounding and defensive action happening there. And for people who really didn't care about basketball before coming to AIIAS a couple of weeks or months earlier, they were getting a crash course on the sport.
They kept saying "this is unfair. They're really tired" every time the other team would score on a fast break, and our boys could barely rush back for the transition defense. But what could we do? When we had lost that first game, we knew that this was inevitable. I found myself just praying for that game to end without injury. I was willing the time to go faster so that the misery that was so distinct in our brothers' faces would soon end.
The game started with the other team running off to a blazing start, scoring eight points before we scored our first two, and went even as high as 16 before we scored our next point. Since none of the jump shots were going in, it seemed that Davis Magro took it upon himself to fight his way through the defense and score on the paint making moves that just left us shaking our heads in amazement. Personally, I knew Kuya Dee dominated on the basketball court especially back in college and highschool, but never in this manner, because it just seemed to be physically impossible for him to have that much energy after all the games they had just played. This seemed to spark the scoring of the others, that by 1st half, the deficit had been cut to only eight.
During the second half, baskets were being exchanged, but in the last 4 minutes, the ref suddenly called a foul on Kuya Dee which turned out to be his 5th and last one. The look on his face was first one of bewilderment and then finally one of amusement as he trudged slowly to sit on the floor while leaning on the fence. And as other members of the AIIAS Youth went over to give him high fives, I felt I needed to go over too. As I sat down, I remembered distinctly Kuya Bong made a shot bringing the deficit down to 3, so I made this comment about the other team being Korea and him being Marcus Doughit. Because it was when he left the game, that the margin diminished. Now if we could have grabbed the lead at that point, then maybe we would have had a similar ending to that of Gilas Pilipinas during the FIBA Asia Championships, but that was not to be the case.
After that, the opponents made a final run, again widening the gap, and basically booking their trip to the finals.
I remembered Luana saying "But your already tired" to Kuya Dee earlier in the game. It was his response that I think will become a quotable quote. "My body is tired but my mind is still strong", and somehow that also applied not just to him, but to the rest of the guys.
The previous night, Ariel gave short talk during our worship. He talked about our team, about the fighting spirit, about giving our best for our King. And somehow, I know, this was that extra boost that we needed.
(see Ariel's short talk in the video at the end of the blog)
With this whole CLC Sports Fest experience, I am at humbled by my brothers who fought and never gave up until the end. I am inspired by my sisters of girls who began and ended each game with a prayer. I am at awe with how this experience has helped us grow closer together. I am excited to see where the Lord takes the AIIAS Youth from here.
I know that there is still a big task ahead of us in harnessing all the talents and manpower that is present within the AIIAS Youth so that we can become a truly effective unit when it comes to winning souls for Christ, but whoever said being part of God's Army is easy? And it is POSSIBLE... not by our might, nor by our power... but by His Spirit... and THAT is what makes us WARRIORS OF THE KING.
Bangon Pilipinas... (Rise up Philippines)
The world wonders... why Filipinos are so resilient... why could OFWs endure so much abuse, and still work with a smile on our face... Why could we live in these conditions and still smile when our photo is taken... why do we value family above personal gain?
This last couple of days have been an example of what has become a norm. We are a people who are used to dealing with natural disasters... we are used to having our livelihood swept away in a matter of hours... we are used to bayanihan, helping each rise again.
We know that Family is who we should value and save... and we know, that despite the hardships and struggles of today, the Lord will bring us through.
Call us happy-go-lucky... call us habitually-late... call us emotional and un-objective... bad financial planners ...
but you can never call us weak... hopeless... and Godless. and THAT is the reason for all the smiles u see in all the photos and videos of Filipinos in natural disasters.
Posted by Sam (a.k.a.) Tuwid
Calm down people... Remember the Jones Cup of 2012.
That was the last time we won the cup bringing honor and glory to our basketball program back to our shores. It wasn't all rosy on our way there and especially when on our third outing we lost a game against Lebanon.... BIG.
This, after a very promising two wins against Jordan and Taiwan B.
Everyone and their brothers were declaring Gilas as toast and on the grapevine is the mob mentality on the works brewing and hurting the team with its negative spin on the situation-at-hand and if psychologically entertained by the unsuspecting soul would decry Gilas a farce and a failed lot.
A few posters here, high on the spirit of the new Gilas regime who've grown tired of the old, would not and did not allow this negative aura to get its claws to encompass and define Gilas 2. At this point... Only winning all the remaining games can get the Philippines the gold... and along our path, among others, were dreaded teams... Japan, Taiwan A, Iran, and the USA!
Everyone knows now how this story culminated.... the CUP, this became then and will continue to be a cool aid topic at the refreshment stands for years and years for us starved-for-basketball-acclaim Pinoys!
A little patience and we'll soon realize that everything is not lost and winning it all is still a high probability out there to be had. Just believe in Gilas.... Trust in the glow that indeed, we belong and deserve top billing in Asian basketball!
Heads unbowed, mark it down folks..... and even if Gilas do not forcefully barrel through the championship unscathed and will come instead in stealth with bumps, and bruises, and have tasted painful defeats along the way, reality is, Gilas Pilipinas in basketball Asia, is an elite nevertheless!
Remains to be seen... ..... ..... but I BELIEVE!
Go Gilas, Pilipinas. Laban!
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NOTE: Just finished the Google Hangout with Michael Josh, Lala, Gigi, and Ruben who are all Rappler staff ... giving our reactions on the President Benigno Aquino III's State of the Nation Address (SONA).
Its nice to know that I share the same sentiments as other journalists who follow the Pnoy's moves... giving credibility to my point of view when it comes to how the Philippines is being governed... :D
Thank you Rappler for the opportunity to share my views! I hope I get invited again on some other topic.
On this 13th day of July, I would like greet "El Granada" Gary David a happy happy birthday...and with it comes a wish / prayer... that he EXPLODES in the FIBA Asia Championships. There are many why the granting of this wish would be great but here is my personal reason....
I distinctly remember that day, June 30, 2012, when the dreaded news finally became a reality, that the PBA team Powerade Tigers had been sold. Just the night before, Gary David had been denied the MVP award but was awarded with being part of the mythical 5.
I had remembered thinking... why did the Tigerella run happen? If the team was going to be sold ANYWAY, why did God allow Gary David to experience something so rare only to take it away again? I couldn't believe that it was all for nothing...
But I had to look to what was a direct result of that run... and it was Gary David getting on Smart Gilas. He had impressed Chot Reyes and MVP was so much during that one-sided All Filipino Cup Finals that it basically became his ticket on to the national team (there was no other way he could have made it on there if not for that miracle run). Gary must have a special purpose for being on Gilas...
If "El Granada" Gary David explodes during the FIBA Asia Championships, and plays a crucial part in our cliching the title, then finally I can close this painful chapter... coz I know that all happened more than 18 months ago did not go to waste. That it had served its purpose.
I know its contradictory to mix "destiny" and "sports", but I guess that's what happens when you are allowed to get closer to a player and his family than just through the superficial TV screen. When you follow a person's struggles and still maintains the principles that has made him as hardworking and diligent as he is, despite being on "rebuilding" team... And because of that, I am earnestly praying that Kuya Ga' be given the chance to play a crucial role in a team that wins a championship that brings glory not just to the local PBA team but to the whole nation. That the Philippines and the global basketball community give him the recognition and and praise he deserved but has long been denied of.
Happy Birthday ulit, and may God grant u, Jenn, Maxene, Gariel, and Jeylaa a multitude of blessings on the years to come!
Story behind this fansign...
It was the day after the Alaska Aces won title for the PBA's Commissioner's Cup. I suddenly got a message from Jhet de Jesus, one of the super-fans of the team (and one of the friends I gained from this whole PBA experience). He told me that he was with Jvee, and if I wanted to give him any message.... Jvee was part of the Powerade Tigers' Big 3, with Gary David and Marcio Lassiter, who went on that magical run from #8 to the Finals... he was also the main reason why I decided to watch the PBA again. I took a deep breath and wrote this...
"nkakaiyak ung paghawak mo ng championship trophy... makes me think of the Powerade Cinderella run... and though I wish you could have earned his first trophy with Gary and Marcio at your side, I'm so glad that at least, you were able to get it while playing a major role in an independent team...
lahat ng mga fans sa globalport/powerade are so proud of you and we all were all cheering for you."
Jhet handed the phone over to Jvee... soon after that I got a friend request from Jvee on Facebook... and Jvee gave me his personal thanks. Later on, Jhet sent this photo to me.. imagine my delight in getting this. :D
Thank you Jvee! I'll always be a fan.
He who is still searching for his first PBA Championship doesn't believe in the easy way. For this PBA Playoffs Legend, winning the hard is not just the right way. It's the only way.
- by Carlo Pamintuan (for Slam - May 2013)
It was a scorching hot Friday afternoon and Gary David was driving his car around Cubao. The semi-finals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup was scheduled to start that afternoon and El Granda was again not part of it.
“Di naman one-way dati yun, saan kaya tayo dadaan nito?,” he asked as he turned left to an unfamiliar street. After about five minutes of traversing obscure side streets and tiny eskenitas, Gary finally found his way out of the maze and what welcomed him was a familiar sight.
The Smart-Araneta Coliseum greeted the player as he continued to drive forward. There was a slight traffic jam as cars were already starting to turn right and line-up at the South Gate parking entrance. Gary steered to the left and went straight ahead instead of in.
It would have been nice to be on that same line, to park his car on the basement and carry his gym bag upstairs. It would have been awesome to dress up and shoot around, to prepare for the first game of the semis. But, at this moment, none of that is in Gary itinerary.
Instead Gary parked his car a block away from the arena right in front of the Cubao market. He turned off his stereo which was blaring Andrew E music for most of the trip and stepped out of his car.
Gary stole a glimpse of the coliseum as he crossed the street. In a couple of hours, the Barangay Ginebra will be facing the Talk ‘N Text with the Kings were doing their version of Gary David’s Tigerella run from the year before.
“Manonood ka ba sa Araneta mamaya?” I asked him. “Sa TV nga ayaw ko nang manood e, live pa kaya,” he answered. “Masakit masyado. Nakaka-inggit. Bakit ko pa sasaktan yung sarili ko di ba?”
Just last year, it seemed like things were finally falling into place for Gary David and his Powerade Tigers. They finished eighth after the Philippine Cup elimination round then they went on a magical run upsetting the powerhouse B-Meg and Rain or Shine teams. They lost to Talk ‘N Text in the finals but the Tigers knew they were only a piece of two away from getting a championship.
Then the team committed what could be considered as franchise suicide. They traded Marcio Lassiter to Petron. Then they allowed Doug Kramer to walk away. Powerade then sold the franchise which led to trading Sean Anthony for a draft pick and letting JVee Casio. The result was this. Gary David walking into the Cubao market instead of the Mecca of Philippine sports.
“Nag-request kasi yung mga anak ko na magluto ako ng kare-kare. Paborito nila yun kaya mamamalengke muna ako,” Gary said as we walked past flower vendors. “Tuwang-tuwa kasi yung mga bata pag nagluluto ako kaya habang marami akong oras ngayon, pinagbibigyan ko sila.”
Eyeballs started to turn when they saw the 6’2’’ player heading in. Shouts of “Idol!” soon followed as he walked down the steps towards the meat section.
“May tuwalya ka ba?,” Gary asked his suki. “Meron, idol, basta ikaw,” the vendor replied. “Bigyan mo na rin ako ng baka yung may taba,” he added while he explained how fatless beef can be easily overcooked. The wrong ingredients, Gary said, could ruin the entire meal.
“Import talaga yung naging problema namin e,” he said. “Yung Air21 naka-jackpot kay (Michael) Dunigan. Ganun rin yung Meralco kay (Eric) Dawson.” GlobalPort Batang Pier had a 2-1 win-loss record to start the Commissioner’s Cup with import Justin Williams. The 6’9’’ player was not an offensive threat but he did the dirty work for their team filled with potent scorers. When the losses started coming, the GlobalPort management panicked and replaced Williams with Walter Sharpe who was unceremoniously dumped after he was caught sleeping in a parking lot. After they replaced Sharpe with Sylvester Morgan, it was already too late. For the second straight conference, GlobalPort was the first team to be eliminated, following up their one-win Philippine Cup with a two-win Commissioner’s Cup.
“420 lahat idol,” the vendor said. Gary handed him a 1,000 peso bill and said “400 na lang ha?.” The vendor smiled as he handed the player 600 pesos in change.
After Gary finished buying his meat, a guy holding a pen and a piece of paper approached him. “Pa-prima naman idol,” he asked. Gary took the pen and signed the paper. He turned it over to see a list of bets for that night’s PBA game. “Listahan pala ng pusta yung pinapirma mo sa akin e baka naman sabihin nung natalo ako yung malas,” Gary joked. “Hindi idol. Akong bahala. Kung gusto mo tumaya ka na rin,” the fan shot back. Gary laughed as he walked towards the vegetable section.
He still needed to pick up talong, sitaw, and pechay so he walked towards his other suki. Gary examined the vegetables closely, choosing only the best kind. Instead of allowing the vendor to pick for him, Gary chose the vegetables himself because he likes to take charge. He wants to be a part of the choosing because he wants to be responsible for the result.
“Ang tagal naming hinintay yung 2011 Draft kasi dalawa yung pick namin sa first round,” Gary told me. “Bago yung draft nag-usap talaga kami ni coach Bo (Perasol) kung ano yung gagawin. Sinabi ko sa kanya na mas okay kung si JVee Casio yung kukunin namin kasi kung si Paul Lee baka magkapareho kami ng posisyon. Si JVee kasi nakita na natin kung paano maglaro na point guard talaga dahil sa Gilas.”
GlobalPort also had the fourth pick the the top-heavy draft filled with Smart-Gilas products. “Kung hindi si Chris Lutz, si (Marcio) Lassiter lang talaga kaya kung sino yung maiwan para sa amin, yung ang kukunin,” Gary said. “Pero ako gusto ko talaga yung Lassiter kasi magaling dumepensa at may tira rin sa labas.”
Gary David chose the ingredients he wanted to cook with and made a brilliant dish. He selected pieces that would compliment him because he knew he had it in him to win a championship. The dish was great but it wasn’t perfect. It might have needed a dash of salt or a pinch of pepper. It might have needed more time to cook over Gary David’s flaming hands. But the powers that be nonchalantly threw the dish away, stepping on Gary’s dreams, spitting on his hard work.
“Nasa Subic ako noon kasama ko sila Will (Antonio) at Celino (Cruz). Tapos nabalitaan na namin na magkasama sila boss JB (Baylon), si Marcio at si Charles (Tiu),” Gary recalled. “Kinutuban na kami noon kasi ganun yung style ni boss JB e. Mag-di-dinner muna kayo tapos sasabihan kang mate-trade ka na.”
“Ang ganda na nung core nung team,” Gary lamented “Napatunayan na namin na kaya nang abutin yung finals. Yung championship, isa o dalawang player na lang maaabot na rin namin.”
But again, it wasn’t meant to be. El Granada also got close before. In the 2008 PBA Fiesta Conference, the Air21 Express held a 3-2 series lead against the Barangay Ginebra Kings only to lose the final two games. Air21 then had Gary David, Arwind Santos, Ranidel De Ocampo, Doug Kramer, JC Intal, Nino Canaleta, Gabby Espinas, and Wynne Arboleda. If they kept that core intact, it’s not hard to imagine them winning championships and staying competitive until today.
This was why Lassiter’s trade hurt Gary. He already felt this pain before and he knew there was only one ending. Air21 gave away Santos to the San Miguel Beermen. They also traded De Ocampo to Talk ‘N Text. The two players went on to play vital roles in champion teams. Gary had no such luck.
“Sobrang nanghinayang ako kasi akala ko yun na yung pagkakataon ko,” he said. “Pero wala naman akong magagawa e. Player lang ako. Masakit lang kasi bumalik na naman ako sa ibaba. Ang tagal ko na doon e. Akala ko oras ko na, hindi pa pala.”
A kargador carrying a freshly slaughtered pig then approached Gary. He tried to wow the player with a crude but spirited impersonation of James Yap while the animal was still on his shoulders, its blood trickling down his shirt. Gary let out a quick smile and continued walking. The slight limp he had that morning was no longer noticeable.
Earlier that day Gary was at the Moro Lorenzo Sports Center to get treatment on his left foot. He was lying on a bed with his heavily iced foot resting on a pillow. Two physical therapists alternated in massaging and stretching his mildly swollen foot.
He was wearing a Shohoku jersey with 14 printed in front.
“Binibigyan ako ng Sakuragi pero sabi ko ayoko,” Gary said. “Di naman ako duma-dunk e. Sabi ko Mitsui na lang. Mas bagay sa laro ko.” The super scorer finished the Commissioner’s Cup eliminations as the second highest scoring local, with 22.14 points per game, only behind Mark Caguioa. He also ranked third in statistical points behind LA Tenorio and Calvin Abueva and he did this with almost no bonus points for won games.
“Sabi sa akin ipahinga ko muna daw para mabilis gumaling,” Gary said. “Pero ayoko namang magpahinga kasi sayang yung chance ko na makasali sa Gilas.” With his team already out of contention, Gary has focused himself with the task at hand and this is is to help the Gilas squad perform well in the upcoming FIBA Asia competitions.
Gary knows that there is no greater honor than winning for the country but he also knows that for him to cement his legacy he will need to win a PBA championship.
The people in the market don’t remember what he did for the Philippine team in the Jones Cup. What they remember was when he torched B-Meg and shot his way to the PBA Finals. To be remembered by these people for a long time, he’ll need to do that again and this time do it all the way.
He walked out of the market with plastic bags in both hands. He popped his trunk and placed his ingredients inside. He turned on the engine together with the stereo to give Andrew E the chance to continue his story after this girl said “Andrew, let's eat some pizza and Andrew let's drink some beer."
Preparing dinner for his family was next in Gary’s to-do list. The time he needed to be Gary David the basketball player and Gary David the PBA ambassador is now over. He’ll head home and perform a role that he’s also really good at. And that’s being Gary David the husband and Gary David the father.
El Granada has never won a basketball championship. Not in the NCRAA where his Lyceum Pirates made the finals three times only to lose to St. Francis of Assisi bannered by Yancy and Ranidel De Ocampo. Not in the PBL with the Montaña Pawnshop Jewelers. Not with the Coca-Cola Tigers nor the Air21 Express. Not with the Powerade Tigers and obviously not GlobalPort Batang Pier.
At this point of his career. Gary has two choices open for him. The first is to ride it out with his team, hope they surround him with enough talent, and win a championship before his career is through. The other choice is to demand a trade to a championship contending team so bring him that much closer to his goal.
But to Gary, this is really no choice, or better yet, the choice is not his to make. “Player ako. May kontrata ako kaya maglalaro ako,” is his mantra.
“Pero kung ma-t-trade man ako, isa lang naman yung hinihingi ko….” Gary said.
This was it. This was what I wanted to know. You want to be trade to an elite team, right? A squad with a higher chance of a championship? The Aces, Mixers, Kings, or Texters of the world?
You want the sure thing, right El Granada?
“Sana yung mga kapalit ko, magawa yung di ko nagawa.”
This, I figured, was why Gay David was Gary David. From being an unknown college student from Dinalupihan, Bataan, he rose and became one of the most famous players in the PBA today by always doing the right thing. Basketball rewarded him because he understands the concept. He knows the secret. Basketball is and will always be about the team. He may be a vital cog in it but in the end he’s just one part. This late in his career, he could pull a Ray Allen who dumped the Boston Celtics for a sure thing in the Miami Heat.
But that’s just not him. He still the loyal guy who passed up on a chance to transfer to FEU and stayed with Lyceum. The same guy who signed yearly with Montaña without looking at offers from other teams. The exact same guys who told coach Bo Perasol that he will stick with him in Powerade even the future was cloudy.
Gary accepts the fact that trades are part of reality in basketball, that no one is exempted from being traded, not even a player who has poured his heart and soul for a franchise.
“Willing naman ako maging role player ulit e. Yung mga awards, di na importante sa akin yan,” he admitted. “Wala naman kasi sa akin yung pagiging star e, nag-umpisa naman ako sa wala, sa pagiging reliever kay Renren (Ritualo). Kung kailangan kong maging reliever para sa ibang player, tatanggapin ko.”
If he is to be traded, Gary has one simple wish.
“Kung i-t-trade man ako, sana yung makuha nila mas magaling para madala sila sa championship. Sana hindi sila magpa-lugi sa pagtrade sa akin.”
The thought of winning a championship with a stronger team will be much easier for Gary. It’s enticing because it does not take much time. However, there’s this lingering feeling for Gary. He knows that winning a championship with another team is a cop out.
“Mas maganda naman talaga kung manalo ako ng championship na masasabi kong sa akin talaga. Yun na lang yung ginagawang kong inspirasyon ngayon,” he said. “Kung masali ka sa Talk ‘N Text, okay rin, masaya rin na mag-champion pero kung GlobalPort yung nag-champion, doble siguro yung tuwa ko.”
He has his doubts. You can’t take that from a person who has been here before. apparently, all Gary needed to hear was one simple sentence from GlobalPort owner.
Sabi ng boss Mikee kaku ‘E ka migaganaka, aku rin bisa kung mag-champion,’” Gary said. “ Ang sabi ni boss Mikee sa akin, ‘Huwag kang mag-alala gusto ko ring manalo ng championship.’”
“Ing sabu ku kaya e ku paynawa hanggang e ku makatakman championship,” Gary replied. “Ang sabi ko sa kanya di ako magpapahinga hanggang di ako nakakatikim ng championship.”