[Editor's note: With this piece, we start unveiling SPIN.ph's 10 Sports Heroes of 2018 leading up to the announcement of the Sportsman of the Year.]
THE worst circumstances can bring out the best in people.
That was exactly the case during the infamous brawl that marred the Philippines' game against the visiting Australia side in the fourth window of the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
Most of the members of Gilas Pilipinas angered by the Aussies' physical and belligerent play decided to push back, leading to punishment from Fiba in the form of suspensions and fines for both players and the Philippines.
Fajardo, Amer, and Norwood didn't join the commotion. No one among the three threw a single punch. But by doing nothing, the three delivered a bigger statement.
It wasn't because they didn't get angry.
Norwood looked at the big picture and put the team above everything. Amer dug from his experience in college when majority of San Beda's team got suspended after a melee and decided it wasn't worth it.
Fajardo simply remembered that his mom, who since he was a kid used to spank him each time he got into a fight, was in the gallery. He didn't lift a finger during the commotion.
Rike went a step further. The newly recruited Fil-Am forward stepped in and saved Chris Goulding from serious injuries while the Australian player was being pounced on underneath the court.
When the emotions died down and the repercussions for the Philippine basketball team started to sink in, the four stood as bigger men.