An athlete once ruled out of the 2017 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Malaysia for alleged non-cooperation with her national sports association turned out to be a treasure for Philippine sports.
Cebu-native Mary Joy Tabal, who was earlier dropped by the Philippine Amateur Track and Field Association (PATAFA), earned the country’s first gold medal in the 29th SEA Games in the women’s marathon last week, clocking a time of 2:43:02.
PATAFA chief Philip Juico earlier excluded Tabal from the Philippine team in violation of “important conditions” in order to be retained in the national pool. However, Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) Commissioner Ramón Fernández successfully championed for Tabal’s right to compete, proving the 4’11’ Cebuana is one of the country’s hopes in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
She had previously finished in eighth place at the Scotiabank Ottawa Marathon in Ottawa, Canada last year.
For Tabal, her triumph is every Filipinos’ victory, hoping her example will be the start of more gold medals for the Philippine contingent in the ongoing SEA Games in Kuala Lumpur.
Gila Pilipinas, the Philippine national men’s basketball team, met their cruel fate in the ongoing 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon, after a successful start to the tournament, lost their subsequent games against South Korea and the host squad.
For a country that considers basketball its top sport, losing in the Asia Cup is unacceptable. But what really went wrong with Gilas? Is it the lineup? The preparation?
For many basketball aficionados, Gilas missed both thanks to the absence of an internationally-competitive roster and a short preparation period.
Looking at the national squad’s line-up in Beirut, the Philippines could have sent a better team.
Naturally, Coach Chot is working with what he has, but does he even have the choice to select his team? I wish he had; however, with the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) rule of “one player per team,” he really has no other option.
While I commend Rain or Shine Elasto Painters for lending two primary players, Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan, if only 7’ Barangay Ginebra center Greg Slaughter were added to the frontline – alongside Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar and Junmar Fajardo of the San Miguel Beermen.
6’8’ Fil-German forward Christian Standhardinger may have performed well for Gilas, the team deserves another multi-role big man on the floor to up the physical game.
Additionally, while other teams appeared to have been preparing for months, the Philippine team was limited due to scheduling conflicts with their professional teams.
Not until our basketball officials, benefactors, and PBA team owners agree to “country first,” we may have to learn to accept the Philippines is not ready for the world stage./WDJ