A Tribute to the Team (Gilas) Philippines

Dare to Fail, Strive to Succeed: A Discourse on Life’s Struggle and the Way of the Warrior

“It’s great. I’m just proud with everybody involved tonight. All the hard work of the coaches to the players and even the crowd. All the fans spending their hard earned money to come and support us and the fact that we come here and make our countrymen proud, it doesn’t really get any better…” — Jimmy “The Mighty Mouse” Alapag

I refer to Jaemark Tordecilla’s “Philippines versus South Korea: A History of Heartbreak in Basketball”, InterAksyon, August 10, 2013.

On the said historical article, the writer has listed the list of our heart-breaking losses to the South Koreans. Said series of sad events gave birth to the so-called “The South Korean curse”.

Yet nonetheless, through the years, we never gave up. We knew that somewhere, somehow, one fine day, we will find a way to defeat these tough competitors of ours and slay the dragon, so to speak.

As Professor A. C. Grayling said:

“Hope is a virtue independently of its realisations; it is an intrinsic value, an end in itself, allied to courage and imagination, a positive attitude full of possibility and aspiration. For that reason you discover more about a person when you learn about his hopes than when you count his achievements, for the best of what we are lies in what we hope to be.”

Indeed, these are precisely the events and circumstances that warriors needed to affirm and reaffirm their faith, their vow to the battle, to the struggle, in a word: to their warriorship!

Without defeat, failure and obstacles; we tend to lax and relax, hence as a warrior myself and as a philosopher, it is my firm view that we must welcome these set-backs, defeats and failures to rise up, to fight again and to continue the struggle… until the end!

As Katsumoto said in that film, “The Last Samurai”:

“I belong to the warriors of the old; the old ways that joins a new!”

Indeed, it’s ain’t over till it’s over! Until the next time! The Struggle continues… to the Death!

This is the philosophical basis of the principle and conviction of: Keeping the faith!

Undeniably, we must dare to fail and give everything to succeed!

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Many people tend to believe that a great warrior or a competitor for that matter, are only those who wins and triumph. They fail miserably to realize that a champion’s heart, in part is built on misery, on obstacles, failure and series of defeats.

The Michael Jordan that the world love, worship and respect is also the same Michael Jordan that were defeated regularly year in and year out by the Detroit Pistons from 1988 up to 1990.

If the Philippine Basketball has the so-called “South Korean Curse”, his Airness also has to struggle with the so-called “psychological barrier” of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Finally, Mike put an end to the Piston’s dominance of the East and he founded an Empire for himself and for the Chicago Bulls for the rest of the 90’s.

A great warrior is not a warrior that doesn’t lose, rather he is great because no matter how much pain and losses he suffered, he never give up to the struggle, he always rise and rise and rise up to the call of the situation and never let go of the opportunity to fight and to stand up again and again and again!

They believe that it is not the question of whether you win or lose the game, but rather it is the question of how you played the game! There you have it: NEVER SAY DIE — until the very end… It is in that indubitable sense that that fighter is the ultimate warrior…

In the immortal words of Teddy Roosevelt:

“It is not the critic that counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly, who errs, and comes forth again and again because there is no effort without woe and shortcomings, and who does actually try to do the deed; who knows the great enthusiasm, the great devotion and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at worst if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly. For better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat.”

Last night, finally the historical day arrived and the momentous event happened: our courageous boys finally ended “the curse” by defeating our perennial opponents from South Korea by the score of 86 – 79, but said victory or revenge, if you will, did not come swiftly in a silver platter.

Said game is truly a battle between two great teams and tough warriors!

They both fought with such tenacity and fury that few could rival! The South Korean threw everything on us, but we also beat the hell
out of them!

As expected, the game turned into a cardiac one! No one appears to be the sure winner up to the last two minutes!

At the second quarter, the Filipinos’ naturalized player asked to be substituted by reason of an injury. From that point on, the cudgel to fight for the nation’s pride were taken by the Filipinos themselves.

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I gave tribute to the whole team because indeed it was a team effort, but I hope our people will not accuse me of bias, if I would specifically mention the tremendous contributions and sacrifices rendered by our very own “Sakuragi”, RDO, Mighty Mouse and “The Blur”.

Marc Pingris (Sakuragi) served as the bastion of our defense and tower of strength! He battled the players of the other team which is far much taller than him!

He defended the bloody blue paint to keep it safe, grabbed those monster and authoritative rebounds and provided the crucial points that we need!

I would like very much to highlight that Sakuragi did all of these feats under tremendous pressure and adversity. We played under pain! He battled the Koreans as he himself struggled against his hamstring injury.

RDO helped Sakuragi in defending the paint. He served as the Other Twin Tower of our defense. One international commentator even dubbed him as “a steady and steely guy”. His three (3) point shot at the crunch gave us a four point lead at 1:31 left in the game.

The Blur, Jason Castro again and again and again drove and penetrated to the basket showing not even a slightest respect to the South Korean defense. His guts and intensity has provided the Gilas Philippine Team the necessary spark and energy to repulse the enemies’ counter attacks.

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The Mighty Mouse, Jimmy Alapag, our Team Captain provided the experience and the leadership.

His two three point shots at the dying minutes of the game is the one that finally put to an end to the so-called “South Korean Curse”.

One commentator even described his last shot as the “shot that was heard all over Asia”.

As the Mighty Mouse himself had stated empathically after the game (Alapag on Gilas beating Korea: ‘This is the most precious moment of my career’, Inquirer Sports, August 11th):

“This is more than the PBA championship. This is so much deeper. This is for our country.”

“Not only do we love the game so much and are so passionate of the game of basketball but just thinking of the heartbreak that we had and the history against Korea to change all that in one night here at home in front of an unbelievable crowd it’s absolutely special…”

Again, I join the nation in honoring our warriors and gladiators in winning against all odds. They had shown indisputably what a Filipino heart is made off.