It was totally heartbreaking for us Filipino media members here in Macau covering the Asia League’s The Terrific 12 when our very own iECO Green Warriors got booted out from the tourney after going 0-for-2 in the group stage.
So when the league’s organizers put up a Media Showcase right after the semifinals on Saturday night, we just enjoyed ourselves. For us, that was like our stress reliever from the business we’re having here in Macau.
But little did we know that it will light up the competitive fire within us.
We thought prior to the Showcase that we’ll be grouped differently, that some Filipino members that included Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Cedelf Tupas, Inquirer.net’s Bong Lozada, ABS-CBN Sports’ Paul Lintag, Rappler’s Delfin Dioquino, and I will be bunched with the other foreigners. But it went otherwise, and it practically became the Philippines versus the Far East.
Just like what we usually do in our hoop runs every Monday night at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum, we approached the game with a just-enjoy-it mentality. But the other team, mostly Chinese, played like their life was on the line.
They were serious. Like, dead serious. There’s really nothing bad about that though, but it had already reached to a point where things got chippy, when a colleague of ours got tangled up with a Chinese guy much smaller than him.
Things started to heat up when that same Chinese guy stood in front of him while he was on the free throw line and looked at him eye-to-eye, forehead-to-forehead (by the way, that teammate of ours appears regularly on TV).
To be honest, I felt a bit afraid that it might blow up — you can’t blame me, as I’ve seen a handful of basketbrawls. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed, but that guy from the other team still threw tantrums like a little kid.
No joke here. He really did. One instance was when he swung his arm on his teammates when they were trying to calm him down (or in Filipino, hinawi).
He left the Studio City Event Center afterwards. Nobody knows until now why he left. Maybe he was kicked out? But as he left, the game turned for the better, and fears of skirmishes to take place once more were gone.
We were all glad that we finally enjoyed the game we love, so much so that we won both games — the Showcase was a mini-tournament that featured four teams and had a semis and a finals — and got crowned as this year’s champs.
And as for the other side, though they were just one three-pointer away from sending the championship bout into an overtime, they were all satisfied, still, as they were all able to play and have some diversion from their busy sked.
So, yeah, the Philippines won’t be going home empty-handed from The Terrific 12.