To Filipinos, basketball is almost a religion. Well, that was before Manny Pacquaio grabbed the limelight for quite some time and faded after the much ballyhooed “fight of the century” that went dud. Anyway, Filipinos regale at their very own PBA and would go crazy during NBA times. NBA playoffs and championship season would virtually awaken even those confined in ICU.
It was my Uncle Greg who introduced me to the colorful tournament of basketball, the NCAA, featuring basketball clubs of famed colleges and universities. At that time, it was Mapua, UP, Ateneo, La Salle and Letran had a grand time at the hoops. I was a grown up toddler then salivating at every game at the Big Dome. I had hoops in every corner of our house. I was a dead shooter too.
When it was my turn to play as a cager, my height however failed me instantly. I may be one of the prized dribblers, the fastest and the most agile in the neighborhood but when the village caging competition turned on, I usually would find myself in the bleacher as a cheerleader.
Nonetheless, basketball was for me, like anyone in our town, the most exciting sports there is. It is a game of skill, of endurance, of strategy, of patience, of might, of fairness. Unlike any other sports where only a couple of virtues can be displayed, in basketball everything makes humanity wholesome, or bothersome, as it is observed. It is almost a game of life. Failure or losing in the game of basketball is not an end though. It is just a means having to practice more if only to prepare and win later.
I am a thorough and ardent follower of local and international basketball. And I admit that I am a fool for the game. I may not sulk if my team loses but inability to watch a good game made a bad hair day for me. There was no important appointment for me when it collides or conflict with a good game. Especially when NBA game time was there, I oftentimes would wish that my workplace would close shop.
I even carried such addiction to the sports a bit farther, to the extent that it nearly ruined my career. I was already a high ranking prison official when the prison administrator called for a command conference. It was however on a date when the final game of NBA would be played. It was Chicago headed by basketball great Michael Jordan on one hand battling for supremacy against Utah Jazz Karl Malone and John Stockton on the other. It was, at that time, like watching how the gods of Olympus would materialize on earth! I purposely absented myself just to watch the game and when I came back to report for work, I found myself in the freezer already!
I was of course repentant after that situation. I doubled my effort to get the nod of the prison leadership once again and tried my best to be a good team member, like those brilliant players in the NBA Finals. And quite providentially, the succeeding games were no longer that thrilling anymore to force me to choose and exchange my career in public service.
Not until a new generation of hoopsters are introduced. They are not the savvy cagers with penchant for stylized form but players who would treat each game, even if it is a regular one, as if it was the last game of their lives! Their bodies are built for physicality and their minds accustomed to instant problem solution. They are a different breed not unlike their predecessors. They are trained to be predators in the wooden court. They have a mastery of the time, a complete understanding of rules and the tenacity of athleticism. They are more than the gods of sports; they are virtually almost a congregation of mutant aliens! Describing their play would always be done with superlatives. A game is almost equivalent to a string of highlights.
Even if I would aspire to be a hoopster, I would never even imagine myself as great as these youthful players in basketball. Indeed, they have evolved into a highly efficient and disciplined sports machine in a highly competitive game of basketball.
It is only now that I realized that mankind has evolved from his ancient beginning to a new enhanced and supreme form of humanity. Technology indeed has a monumental effect not only on the lifespan of man but also on his entire being.