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Blaming the athlete is a shame

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Another year, another poor showing for Team Philippines.

The 17th Asian Games wrapped up earlier this month in Incheon and the collective efforts of the 150-strong contingent only yielded a measly 15 medals. One gold, 3 silvers, and 11 bronzes—hardly anything to brag about for a country of 100 million.
This year’s 1-3-11 finish is a few measures short of the gold-silver-bronze showing in past years. Whichever way you look at it, we seem to be worse off: in 2010 it was 3-4-9 and in 2006 it was 4-6-9. We’ve tumbled from being ranked 18th to 19th to 22nd in three Games.

That this was the worst Asiad finish of Team Philippines since 1951 does not seem to faze our dear sports leaders. On the all too familiar question “Why are we losing so badly?” the answer is never because of the inadequacy of those in charge of Philippine sports. Chair of the Philippine Sports Commission, Richie Garcia, has taken things even further. In an interview post-Asiad he went on as far as to lay blame on the athletes themselves saying that, “A little more push and they could’ve won those medals.”

It is time we cry for shame.

Sorry never sorry

In the Philippines it is all too often the case that whenever disaster or failure strikes we always look for a scapegoat. Bad results, even as they are a product of the usual suspects of a dysfunctional system, are often blamed on someone or something else. “Hindi sinuwerte eh” or “Dinaya kami” are things we hear all the time. My personal favorite is one often uttered by those in politics, “It is the fault of the last administration.”

I have come to expect this from our leaders and I could probably have written off this sorry Asiad finish as another item in the long list of all that’s wrong in the country, sports or otherwise. But sometimes even the most cynical of us can be surprised at the callousness of remarks. In the case of the statement made by a big boss in sports, this is one such instance.

A numbers game

On one hand I do understand how for administrators and for those in management positions numbers are important. I’ve had a love-hate relationship with math but I respect numbers. They give meaning to otherwise arbitrary qualifiers. Hot or cold becomes “How many degrees centigrade?” and scales of 1-10 can help you visualize exactly how hot or attractive your friend’s Friday night date was. Numbers help us make sense of things as they make sense of athletic endeavors. We know that “good” sports programs are those that yield results in an array of hardware: in gold, silver, and bronze.

Like it is in other endeavors, these are the necessary benchmarks for performance, however, it would be wrong to say they tell the whole story.

There’s long been a push-pull between quality and quantity. Should you go out on more dates or should you just focus on looking for “the one”? In geeky research-speak, this is a manifestation of the debate for qualitative and quantitative methods. The gist of it being that you can examine a single or a handful of cases and come out with a deep and rich understanding, or you can examine loads and loads of cases and arrive at some truth that applies to a significant number of them but not to a level that reaches that deeply.

This isn’t a social science class so perhaps it’s best to stop there. But one thing we can learn from the two ways to go about research is the limits of one versus the other. You can cast a wider net with a quantitative approach but understand more thoroughly with a qualitative approach.

Applying these things to sports programs, a program’s success is based on the numbers and the number of medals it produces. Measurements are indeed necessary but we ought to keep in mind the individual cases that make up the numbers; the athletes who dedicate significant portions of their lives to compete for flag and country. We measure success in sports programs through the medal by numbers, but it is critical to recognize still the efforts of the athletes even as we criticize the mess of a program of which they are part.

All that is Ill

What was particularly unnerving about the remarks made by Richie Garcia was that it discounted the 17th Asian Games athletes in such a summary manner. “A little more push and they could’ve won those medals.”

Perhaps a little more support for our athletes and we could’ve won those medals. Perhaps a little more transparency from the system and funds could’ve efficiently reached the athletes. Perhaps better training, facilities, and a little more leadership and we could have a sports program we can be proud of.

In view of recent events in Philippine sports, this game of finger pointing has to some extent become more apparent. Blaming is in vogue and aside from the post-Asiad remark by the PSC Chair, UP Maroons Men’s Basketball Team head coach Rey Madrid also recently called his players a bunch of rejects and Team B-caliber athletes. Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes blamed, too, one of his team’s recent losses on player Marcus Douthit.

While each case is different in its own right and with one statement more justified than the other (guess which one), both cases illustrate a pointed accusation of fault.
The burden of leadership

Looking back, I understand more vividly now what my coach used to tell me and my teammates back in college, “When teams win people say it is because the players are good and when they lose it is because of the coach.” I remember now how he’d tell us this line with a heavy sigh. He may have understood that the burden of leadership is command responsibility.

All in all the problem with finger pointing, especially in our leaders, is that for the very reason that no one would like to be blamed, no one assumes the bigger responsibility of making things better. Coach Chot was admirable in his apology for Gilas Pilipinas’ poor showing in the Asian Games. He may have pointed the finger at another point in time but his willingness to apologize for his inadequacy is something we rarely see in this country. Philippine sports bosses, please take note.

In any case, I still look out for hope that things can change from what they are now. Perhaps when we can become ready to accept blame we can more surely take responsibility for our actions.

Perhaps then we can earnestly begin to ask ourselves the next relevant question on the matter: “How can we make things better?”

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1 Comment
  • humblenothumble

    When I played in the SEA Games in Niy Piy Daw, Mayanmar, my “seasoned” teammates gave this wonderful advice: “OK lang matalo! Wala namang supporta ang PSC eh”. I was speechless. There’s no shame in blaming athletes if 1) Theyre idiots who think they know better than their coaches 2) they blame the rest of the world for their poor performance.

    I won the gold in my event by the way.

Football

Composed Ceres-Negros expels Shan United in shootout victory

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Photo from the-AFC.com

2017 AFC ASEAN Zone Champions Ceres-Negros banked on their poise and composure from the spot as they knocked out Myanmar’s Shan United via a 4-3 penalty shootout (1-1 after extra time) triumph, Tuesday evening at the Thuwunna Stadium in Yangon, Myanmar.

The Negrenses punched their ticket to Brisbane, Australia after emerging the better spotkick takers. Four Busmen were on target, while two of their Shan Warriors counterparts fluffed their lines.

The two domestic champions were inseparable after 120 minutes, with the hosts holding their own against the Philippine champions. Ceres-Negros looked the more dominant of the two teams. However, they couldn’t make the advantage count where it mattered, as they failed to breach the sturdy Shan United defense inside the first two regulation halves.

The visitors were visibly more comfortable in the first half, but with the scores staying level at the break, the less-fancied Myanmar champions eventually found their footing in the encounter. While there were several half-chances from either side to open the scoring, both defenses remained defiant en route to unwanted extra time.

“It was a tough game. We weren’t ready to play 120 minutes because we only had four training sessions before the game but everytime we wear this jersey, we represent Ceres, we represent Bacolod, we represent the Philippines, so we have to give our best,” Ceres’ defender Carli de Murga elaborated to the Inquirer after the match. The Asian Football season has yet to start, and with both teams not too busy with pre-season preparations, rust and fatigue in a demanding affair were evident.

Come extra time, Ceres-Negros took the initiative when Stephan Schröck’s deflected effort went past the helpless Thiha Si Thu just three minutes into the first half.

Nonetheless, the hosts refused to go down without a fight, and their resilience was rewarded later in the opening half. Substitute Patrick Asare found the back of the net to restore parity in Yangon.

Another 15 minutes of goalless action took place in the second half as both teams looked more cautious, perhaps with the collective aim of avoiding a costly error or two. Among all the chances, Schröck’s in the 114th minute may have proved to be the closest to changing the scores, as his attempt shaved the post.

Shan United took to the spot first, where Asare made his penalty attempt count. Nay Lin Tun also made his, but not before teammate Chizoba smashed his attempt over Toni Doblas’ goal.

While the hosts squandered a shot, the visitors remained calm in front of a hostile Myanmar crowd. De Murga, Schröck and Mike Ott nailed their turns, with Marañon also not missing a vital kick from 12 yards.

It set up William Biassi Nyakwe, the man credited with the own goal when he deflected Schröck’s opener, with the chance to prolong his team’s campaign in the AFC Champions League. Unfortunately for him, he couldn’t atone for his earlier mistake, as his attempt soared high and wide — much to the delight of the visiting team from Bacolod, the Philippines.

The reward for Ceres-Negros is a trip to Queensland, Australia, where they will seek to do one better than compatriots Global-Cebu. The 2016 Philippine champions also played against the Brisbane Roar, who dealt them a staggering 6-0 hammering this time last year. The match will be held at the Suncorp Stadium on January 23.

As for Shan United, a spot in the AFC Cup Group Stage awaits them and they may not have seen the last of Ceres-Negros just yet. If the Negrenses lose to either Brisbane Roar or Tianjin Quanjian, they will be reacquainted with the Burmese champions in Group F.

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Basketball

Abu Tratter plans to work his way to 2023 by continuing to do ‘the dirty work’

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Abu Tratter may have missed the jersey-giving ceremony that the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas held for the 23 for 2023 cadets last Monday but he made sure to help out when the current batch needed him the most.

After helping the Marinerong Pilipino Skippers win the Sinulog Cup in Cebu a week ago, the 6-foot-7 Filipino-American did not hesitate to heed Gilas’ call, as they were undermanned for their second session in preparation for the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“I think it’s just an honor to put on this jersey, to be able to represent our country, to possibly represent our country in the future. It’s an honor,” shared the Laguna-native.

The 25-year old, who just celebrated his birthday last January 9, admitted that he was in awe of the talent inside the Meralco Gym. Like a fan, he wanted to take a few photo ops with the senior team’s Gabe Norwood and June Mar Fajardo.

“Actually, at first I was just shocked to see June Mar and Gabe, just to be able to be in the midst of them,” gushed the former DLSU Green Archer, who will suit-up for Marinerong Pilipino in the D-League. “I even asked them for a picture, and hopefully they’ll still give me one.

“It’s just humbling, definitely.”

However, the work has only began for Tratter. With five years to go until the 2023 FIBA World Cup, the two-time UAAP champion plans to continue to do what he does best — be the same scrapper that he is and hopefully catch the eye of Gilas’ brass.

“I think just doing the dirty work, of course. Giving whatever the team needs, rebound or any steals, any thing a dirty player would need to pick up on,” he said.

“That’s how it is, garbage into gold. Get anything, sweep up anything and try to put it back.”

Moreover, he will continue answering the call when Gilas needs him, as he himself is learning a lot from being surrounded by the country’s topflight cagers.

“Whenever I can. I want to be able to absorb all the information coming from here and hopefully apply it in the D-League and hopefully apply it on future practices, future games.”

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2018 FIBA 3X3 World Cup

Terrence Romeo invited to join Pilipinas 3×3 for World Cup

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Stronger than ever

Scoring sensation Terrence Romeo has been invited by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to join the Philippine team in the upcoming FIBA 3X3 World Cup, according to Philippine Star columnist Quinito Henson.

Romeo, who is currently out due to a right knee injury, has been in rehabilitation and is expected to miss the entire Philippine Cup campaign of the Globalport Batang Pier and the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Baka sa second conference na ko makabalik kasi talagang gusto ko malakas ako pagbalik ko,” the 25-year-old shared during Chooks-to-Go Live last January 2.

SBP Executive Director Sonny Barrios personally met with the 6-foot guard, inviting him to be part of the Philippine team.

Romeo has plenty of 3×3 basketball experience under his belt.

Back in 2014, Romeo was part of the Manila West 3×3 team during the Manila Masters. He was adjudged as the tournament Most Valuable Player.

The 2018 3X3 World Cup will take place from June 8-12 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

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NCAA

Red Spikers extinguish Blazers for second win

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Shaking off a forgettable outing against the Perpetual Help Altas last January 11, the San Beda College Red Spikers vented their ire on defending champions College of Saint Benilde Blazers in four sets, 25-15, 25-16, 23-25, 26-24, and claimed their second win of the season, Friday afternoon at the FilOil Flying V Centre.

“Sabi ng coaches kalimutan na yung talo,” shared captain Lorenze Santos of what transpired after that match.

So, in this game, the San Beda team poured on what they worked hard for to regain momentum. “Binuhos po namin lahat ng ginawa namin sa training [ngayon].”

After tight starts in all the first two sets, the Mendiola-based side pulled away to register the seemingly insurmountable 2-0 lead.

Nonetheless, summoning the heart of a champion and led by seniors Isaah Arda and Jethro Orian, the reigning champions pulled off gritty runs to snag the third set and making a tussle of the fourth.

Ultimately, Adrian Viray virtually ended the match with a vicious serve, which the Blazers failed to convert.

The prolific outside hitter finished with 17 points, 11 coming from attacks and five off blocks. Former skipper Mark Encino also registered 17 markers.

The Red Spikers (2-1) will face the Mapua University, also at 2-1, on Friday, January 19.

Orian was such a presence at the net, ending up with 20 points for the Taft-based squad.

The defending champions Blazers (2-1) will try to bounce back later that day against San Sebastian College (0-3).

The Scores:

SBC 3 – Viray 17, Enciso 17, Santos 11, Patenio 7, Amagan 7, Desuyo 3, Zabala 0, Genobaten 0, Manliclic 0, Casin L.

CSB 1 – Orian 20, Arda 18, Bacani 6, Basilan 4, Bautista 4, Magsino 2, Martinez 0, Garcia 0, San Miguel 0, Saldavia 0, Dy L.

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