SEEING Beau Belga and Paul Lee with Gilas Pilpinas at the airport immigration line on their way to Wuhan, China raises hope that there are still players who continue to treasure playing for flag and country.
The picture, taken by Gilas coach Chot Reyes at the Port of Hong Kong early Thursday morning, showed the Rain or Shine duo up and about, showing no sign whatsoever of the heartbreak they suffered just hours earlier in Game Five of the PBA Finals against San Mig.
Lacking sleep and nursing broken hearts they may be, but both Belga and Lee were there to answer the call of flag and country.
The Wuhan stint, of course, is the first step in Gilas’ backbreaking buildup for the Fiba World Cup in Spain and the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea. Lee and Belga were not about to turn their back on Gilas.
Their acts remind us of an era when we were Asia's cage kings - an era that started in 1951 when the Philippines won the inaugural Asian Games basketball gold in India which was then followed by what remains to be an Asian-best third-place finish in the 1954 World Basketball Championship in Rio de Janeiro in 1954.
In what is considered the Golden Age of Philippine basketball, players like Carlos Loyzaga, Antonio Genato, Loreto Carbonel, and Ramoncito Campos, among others, time and again did the country proud and never took a day off when it came to playing for our beloved country.
Lee and Belga are throwback players from that golden era.