Thursday, August 1, 2013

For Gilas, diskarte is a superpower. By James Velasquez.

I grew up loving our country’s history: I loved recounting the stories of our heroes, how each one was unique to the other. I loved how Dr. Jose Rizal used his wisdom and eloquence to ignite a revolution. I was a huge fan of Andres Bonifacio and his tenacity. Heck, Lapu-lapu can still make a case as one of the baddest men in Philippine history, dismantling an armada that was supposed to outgun, outarm, and outman us. Throw in a young Manny Pacquiao and Tito, Vic, and Joey (yes, they count as my childhood heroes) and you have the supergroup of all Pinoy Supergroups.

Young James had a fantasy: what if they all lived in the same era and formed like a Pinoy Freedom Force or something? Bonifacio was no Superman, and Rizal was a few million bucks short and a Batmobile away from being The Dark Knight, but that bunch would have kicked ass. We Filipinos always find a way to overcome challenges. Diskarte lang. Imagine the damage that supergroup of heroes coulda’ done.

I bring this up hopefully to inspire Gilas Pilipinas as they prepare for basketball warfare. This team is their Supergroup. All those times Gabe Norwood wished he’d have a wingman ala Japeth Aguilar to protect the skies, or when Gary David had a Marcus Douthit to draw the double team so he can be wide open for his three-point grenades.

We Filipinos have always been viewed as underdogs. The world sometimes likes to bring up our flaws, and tell us repeatedly why we can’t. Yeah we don’t have 6-8 guards. Yeah we don’t have a production line of 7-footers. But always, just like our heroes have proven time and again, this thing called Diskarte and this immeasurable power called Puso has allowed us to slay giants. And this bunch of hardcourt heroes are putting together their own unique special powers for a single purpose. Beat the odds. Show the region we can ball.

You need a coach that’s almost married to the game, who can get you fired up. Someone who isn’t afraid to get in your grill to get your head in the game, but will also let you know if you’re doing a good job to keep your fire burning. That is Chot Reyes’ purpose.

You need speed. Someone who moves like greased lightning. Someone who only knows how to play fast, then play even FASTER. Quick hands and feet to blitz past defenders like a blur of red, yellow, and blue. That is Jayson Castro’s purpose.

You need smarts. Someone who’ll make the right play at the right time, who’ll know when to play fast, take it slow, set the table, then get his when needed. Someone like LA Tenorio.

You need power. Some good ol’ fashioned, no-nonsense muscle, for those big rebounds and blocked shots. Someone strong, like Marcus Douthit and Junemar Fajardo.

It helps to have hops. When you have the ability to kiss the sky, you have the ability to electrify. Attack the rim, protect the paint, Japeth Aguilar.

You need shooters. Cold-blooded like Larry Fonacier. Smooth like Jeff Chan. Mercurial like Gary David.

You need to be versatile. Bring the ball up, set the table, defend guards and wingmen, and throw down slam dunks like Gabe Norwood. Or be an offensive nightmare for the other team, like how Ranidel De Ocampo strokes shots from long range and then bang in the paint for buckets.

You need heart. Someone who plays with raw passion as he battles in the trenches. You will need boundless energy and fire to push beyond your limits when all seems lost. Marc Pingris fits the bill.

You need someone to pull everyone together, on the court and off. Someone who will be at the frontlines to lead, to be the voice in every huddle, the shining example of hard work and a winning attitude. You need a winner like Jimmy Alapag.

And this group will be needing US. Their 6th Man. Buong Pilipinas ang resbak nila. Sila ang dumadayo sa court natin. Ipakita natin ang alab ng Puso ng bawat Pilipino.

Aming ligaya na pag may mang-aapi...

Ang mamatay ng dahil sa’yo! - JV

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