I remember about 10 years ago, I wrote a three-page article for the Sunday Times Magazine (STM) on the topic on basketball as the Filipinos’ passion.
Basketball as the country’s passion is a no-brainer, because you could find at least a wooden post with a ring-shape hole, representing a basketball hoop in any part of this 7,100-island archipelago.
Plus, each day, Filipinos are besieged with an avalanche of basketball stories, ranging from small-scale developmental leagues like MILO-sponsored tournament, Fil-Chinese leagues, various private sponsored tourneys like Fr. Martin, Nike Summer League, to the collegiate leagues (a lot of them, but the more popular are UAAP and NCAA), then, semi-pro league like the PBL followed by the PBA.
Yet, it’s always a wonder why, in spite of the numerous basketball leagues in the country, the Philippines remains light years away from its dream of becoming an Asian power and regain, its place in the world map of basketball.
I seriously believe adding more basketball courts and basketball leagues are not the quick-fix solution for the country’s decades-old problem for respectability.
Rather, it’s in the basketball leaders’ commitment to take the word UNITY seriously.
Since the entry of commercial basketball—particularly the PBA in 1975, and eventually, the pro league’s popularity in the late 1970s on to the 1980s and present, every Filipino youngster dreams of donning a corporate-branded uniform that could pay as high as P300,000 per month.
That’s a lot of money for any Juan dela Cruz, considering that earning P10,000 is already hard to get these days.
And since there’s always money in basketball (just look at Smart, Milo, Powerade, to name a few), corruption isn’t far behind. Which is why, UNITY is also hard to come by for many, many, many years now.
You can read all sorts of corruption stories in any of our major dailies for the last 15 or 20 years, all because some officials wanted to dip their hand on the rich cookie jar of Philippine basketball.
Having said of all these, is it a forget-that-Olympic-dream already for Philippine basketball?
Not really. I believe there’s so much hope for the country’s future bid for basketball supremacy.
However, it will take more than just talk to “be unified”.
Instead, character rooted in a strong relationship with God is of great, great importance in establishing not an artificial unity or a corrupt-free Philippine basketball, but a God-centered national cage organization that will set its sight on not just bringing glory to the country, but most of all, glory to God.
The road to an Olympic gold, world respectability and Asian domination is still far away at this point, but we can impact Philippine basketball one step at a time, one player at a time, one coach at a time, one trainer at a time.
By the time, those “ones” get to know God, have a relationship with Him, the one, becomes two, then four, then, eight, and so on and so forth, until an entire nation experiences a revival. That would be the day!