The H factor

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ROMY P. MARIÑAS

Slovenia won this year’s edition of EuroBasket, beating Serbia, 93-85, in Istanbul last week.

Slovenia what, who?

It is a tiny, landlocked European country, with an area of just a little more than 20,000 square kilometers.

In contrast, the Philippines is about 300,000 square kilometers.

Slovenia has a population of only 2.1 million as of 2017 and the Philippines, 100 million plus as of 2013.

From so few Slovenians, the country was able to field a national basketball team that shocked defending champion Spain and later Serbia.

The undisputed underdogs in the Turkish capital, they are the only underrated cage squad—next to Greece in the 2004 EuroBasket—to have pulled the rug from under the feet of their fancied rivals, pulling it off in their 13th appearance at the annual tournament.

And they did it in style, racking up a 9-0 record on their way to the finals.

Like the Philippine national basketball team, the Slovenians (led by NBA player Goran Dragic), we are quite sure, played with their heart (“puso”), which members of the local squad say is their supposedly secret weapon in FIBA and other important tournaments.

That is where the similarity ends.

The Slovenian team is made up of players who are all nearly seven-footers, while the Philippines can only muster one or two who are even a shade under 84 inches and who are not even homegrown but imported and promptly naturalized through an act of Congress.

In other words, they have the H (height) factor, which, as basketball fans the world over know, is might in the game.

It is unfair that Dragic and company and their countrymen in other sports are born tall, very tall, but that’s the way the genetic cookie crumbles.

Maybe, there is something in the water in their country that make Slovenians serious contenders not only in basketball but also in winter sports, whose Slovenian face is two-time Olympic gold medal winner Tina Maze.

If there is also something in the water in the Philippine archipelago, it’s not going to help our admittedly short basketball players.

The country was recently named the world’s third worst polluter, next to China and Indonesia.

So, drinking that not magical water is not going to lengthen the legs of our cagers.

Well, they can drink it at their own risk.

Better, forget basketball because the Slovenians, the Serbians, the Iranians and the Chinese will never get any shorter.

They were born with the H factor.

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