Nobody will be gloating. Nobody will say “I-told-you-so.” If you’re looking for any chest-thumping in this article, go read something else. This is more than just about the Cleveland Cavaliers coming back to beat the Golden State Warriors after trailing in the series 3-1. This is not about them. This is not about you.
This is about us Filipinos. All of us.
Lines were drawn 10 days ago when the Cavs and the Warriors started the NBA Finals. Both sides were heavily represented. Trash talk ensued. Passion brimmed over. The insults may have gone too far on some occasions, but that’s who we are. Hater. Bandwagon fan. Nut-hugger. One insult after another. We can be fiery and emotional when it comes to the game, and yet for a lot of us, we understand that no matter how much venom is spewed, how much “hate” is thrown around, there’s nothing personal about it. Bato bato sa langit, tamaan ‘wag magalit.
We talk trash because we care deeply about what the game of basketball means to us. It’s our outlet. It’s our sanctuary. The basketball court is a place we can go to and leave behind the baggages of lives. Outside of our faith, our families, our friends, and our jobs, you’d be hard-pressed to find something else we universally care about and love more than the game of basketball.
This NBA Finals hammered home that point because inasmuch as using the term “bandwagon fan” is in vogue these days, it really doesn’t apply to us. None of us are bandwagon fans. Sure, we may root for different teams, or we may switch player or team allegiances from time to time, but we are all one and united when it comes to our love for basketball.
We sweat for the game. We bleed for the game. We cry for the game.
We know it sounds hokey because it is. We can go overboard when it comes to the game. But it’s also the unwavering truth. That point will be made crystal clear from July 5-10, 2016 when the 2016 FIBA Qualifying Tournament hits Manila. You think we’re passionate about the Cavs, the Warriors, or the NBA?
You haven’t seen what we’re capable of when we, as a nation, root for ONE team. Basketball may have originated somewhere else but to every Filipino man, woman or child, the Philippines is where the pulse of the game lies. That pulse will be showcased for the entire world to see when Gilas Pilipinas competes to win one of the remaining available slots for the 2016 Rio Olympics.
And let us assure those who don’t think we’re as rabid as we sound. Just as sure as we are that the sun is hot and Jessy Mendiola’s Instagram account is knee-buckling, you can take it to the bank that when it comes to our boys, no lines will be drawn. No sides will be chosen. We are not Cavs fans. We are not Warriors fans. We, collectively, are Gilas fans.
We will stand behind them, 100 million strong, all together. One way or another, come hell or high water, the full force of the Filipinos’ breathless love and all-consuming passion for the game of basketball will be on full display for the whole world to see.
The NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors showed how hard we could go against each other in cheering for our respective teams. But siding with LeBron James or Stephen Curry is nothing compared to rallying behind Gilas Pilipinas. The bitterness from this Finals will die down. Hands will be shaken. Backs will be patted. Most importantly, both sides will come together, united in cheering for our flag and country.
Think we were loud and raucous when we cheered and rooted for our respective Cavs and the Warriors in the NBA Finals?
We’re just getting started. Come and see.
Photos from espn.com (LeBron James, Channing Frye, and Draymond Green), becomingfilipino.com (basketball game during flood), redbubble.com (crying fan), FIBA facebook page (Filipino crowd), usaftw.files.com (LeBron James, Kyrie Irving)