When second doesn’t suck


“Second [place]sucks….”

….”Winning is not everything, it’s the only thing..” I really do not know how many of us have heard those oft-repeated lines from American movies. The message in those two lines are very simple: failure to come out on top of the competitions, even a “bridesmaid finish,” amounts to nothing. Or nada, zero, zilch!

But adhering to that view is destructive for sports and even the human spirit, because it discourages people from taking risks and even losing, both of which could yield valuable life lessons. Also, imagine if all athletes were more concerned on winning rather than becoming ambassadors of a sport?

So just imagine if the Gilas Pilipinas team that ended up second in the 2013 FIBA Asia meet all told to themselves, “we don’t have a chance of winning the championship, so we’ll just be the servers of softdrinks and hamburgers to the other teams…”

Of what if the coach of the Iranian team told his charges, “Hey, China is now a superpower now. So let’s go back to Iran with tails between our legs….”

But the Iranian and Filipino basketeers and their coaches had one thing in mind: put up a good fight! And it showed during the FIBA Asia tourney in Manila.

Iran literally tore opposition, which is something I expected more from the Chinese team that won the 2011 tournament. But the Filipinos were more of a surprise, since with only two months of preparation, the best finish that I projected for them was third place.

So when Iran and the Philippines battled it out for the championship, expecting a win from the Filipinos would have be too much, although beating the Iranian team would have been a great bonus.

Notably, the Filipinos pulled within six points at one juncture of the game, 53-59, but the Iranians, lead by National Basketball Association player Hamed Haddadi, simply pulled away to register an 85-71 win.

While Filipino basketball fans have heaped praise for the second-place win of the Philippine team in the tournament, I could not help to think of “what could have been” if Gilas’ big man Marc Douthit was 100-percent healthy.

Also, two months preparation may not seem enough, and the outside game of the Philippine team was quite off during the championship game.

But the Filipino basketeers had nothing to be ashamed of, because the 85-71 win of Iran over the Philippine national team was definitely harder compared to Iran’s 70-51 trouncing of China at early stages of the tourney.

In the end, putting up a good fight even if victory is not within sight could also leave a lasting impression, and in the case of the 2013 FIBA Asia meet, the Philippine team deserves more than a pat on the back.

As for Iran, its emergence as the new powerhouse in Asian basketball will draw the attention of top teams participating in the 2014 FIBA Basket World Cup meet.

The next assignment of Gilas Pilipinas is getting a respectable finish in the 2014 meet. So far, the highest finish for a Philippine Team in the World FIBA meets was a bronze in 1954. The legendary Caloy Loyzaga was part of that team, and for sure their feat was given much accolades during their era. But just imagine if Loyzaga just told to himself, “We Filipinos are no match against the American and Brazilian giants, so let’s just play agawan base…” Good thing he was true Pinoy warrior at heart.


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