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    COLUMN: Leave these Gilas fans alone

    Aug 31, 2022
    gilas versus saudi moa arena
    PHOTO: fiba.basketball
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    CHICAGO - After putting the handcuffs on Saudi Arabia, holding it to 46 points on just 23.5 percent from the field (16 of 68), the Gilas Pilipinas defense showed up two nights ago at the Mall of Asia arena.

    But the words spoken by two star players in defense of coach Chot Reyes stood out the most.

    "I'll appreciate you guys not booing our coach," Dwight Ramos said after Reyes was frequently, mercilessly heckled by disgruntled fans during the 84-46 rout of the visiting Saudis.

    [READ: 'I'll appreciate you guy not booing our coach']

    "He's part of us and he's one of us. He ain't gone none of that sh..t. He ain't got to deal with none of those boos," chimed Jordan Clarkson while speaking to reporters in the post-game press conference..

    While I understand the sentiments of Dwight and Jordan, I also strongly believe that athletes should never even suggest, let alone encourage, fans to suppress their feelings.

    Passion for a team isn't always packaged in a box of love and adulation. Sometimes, as in the case of Gilas' recent string of failures, passion stems from anguish, dissent and desperation.


      Sports isn't always a feel-good Disney movie production. There's blood, sweat and tears in real life.

      Fans invest time, money, and a myriad of feelings while rooting for a team. And when things go haywire, they've earned the right to ventilate their emotions as long as those verbal expressions are done so within the accepted norms of a civil society.


      Coaches get booed all the time. But players publicly coming to their defense don't happen all the time. Pro athletes have enough on their plate to worry about the hurt feelings of another grown man in their locker room.

      Gilas Pilipinas

      Jordan's statement - "I'm not here a lot throughout the years so I don't really know what's going on" - makes me wonder if he and Dwight were politely asked by the Samahang Basketbol Ng Pilipinas (SBP) to address the booing and sanitize it with their star power.

      AND THAT SCENARIO MIGHT NOT BE A STRETCH considering how image conscious the SBP is and how fans view it as the chief enabler of Reyes.

      In a way, the ruthless jeering of coach Chot at MOA was also a tacit rejection of the guys leading our basketball federation.

      Assuming the SBP did pull this thing off as one those well-crafted public relations stunts, the hoops body may have miscalculated the negative effects.

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      Having two players come to the defense of an embattled coach created the inference that Chot can neither take the heat nor handle his business.

      It's like watching and hearing two brothers telling everyone to leave their dad alone.

      If I know him enough as a man of fierce pride, I'm sure Chot Reyes would rather lose a PR battle than have somebody else win it for him.

      Like an ointment that soothed a lot of aches and failures, the victory over Saudi must be celebrated. But the hype-happy SBP needs to do it with a dose of modesty.

      Ranked 80th in the world by FIBA, the Saudis were a weary lot. Sources told me they flew from their home country to New Zealand and then left for the Philippines three days later.

      They didn't have their legs under them, which hindered their shooting while getting hammered off the boards, 58-38, despite having decent size.

      Ergo, beating a swaying punching bag isn't the proper gauge to measure the current might and future readiness of Gilas for the 2023 World Cup.

      EAR CANDY. Watching a basketball game via Facebook livestream can be hard on the eyes considering the sometimes sketchy reception of the host.

      But Gilas versus Lebanon was so easy on the ears, thanks to One Sports analyst Charles Tiu who brought his vast knowledge and wealth of experience in the international game to the coverage.

      Having been an analyst for SkyCable myself a lifetime ago, I am aware of the hard work required to assume the position.


      Clearly, Charles, who is the head coach of CSB and an assistant at Meralco, did a lot of pre-game prep that added to the enjoyment of watching a tight game go down the wire.

      Well done, man.

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      PHOTO: fiba.basketball
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