Take a backseat, basketball
FEEL THE GAME - Bobby Motus (The Freeman) - October 18, 2019 - 12:00pm

Basketball is everywhere in the country that goals are attached to trees, lamp posts and walls.  From one-on-ones to the baranggay leagues to the recreational leagues, the school leagues to the commercial leagues, the pro leagues and to the international tournaments.   Our country has an insatiable affection to a game not exactly suited to our sizes, never mind if joining the world stage almost always is an exercise in futility.  The crash dive Gilas had during the last FIBA World Cup in China was a testament.

But recent international sports development entirely unrelated to our misconceived love affair with basketball had kindled interest among several observers.

Pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and gymnast Carlos Yulo both qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics by winning golds in their events.  Obiena did it at the 2019 Summer Universiade held at Naples, Italy.   Yulo won the floor exercises during the 2019 World Artistic Gymnastics Championships at Stuttgart, Germany.  Both are training overseas.

Not to be outdone, two of our female athletes also won golds in their respective disciplines, coincidentally on the same dates, October 13.   NesthyPeticio, who had been boxing since she was 7-years old, won the gold in the featherweight division at the 2019 AIBA Women’s World Boxing Championships held at Ulan-Ude, Russia, beating a taller Russian opponent.  Petecio, a 12-year vet on the PH boxing team, is currently ranked number two in AIBA’s women’s 57kg division.

Doing karate since she was 6-years old, Jamie Lim struck gold at the 2019 Karate Championships at Sakarya, Turkey.  She dominated over her taller opponent from the host nation when she topped the 68kg women’s kumite.  Seven other PH teammates produced medals in the event – 3 silvers and 4 bronzes.   Standing at 5’8, Jamie is the only child of the original Skywalker, PBA’s Samboy Lim, and is doing her own version of skywalking.

We had proven ourselves against the Spanish and American colonizers and defended well against the Japanese during World War 2.  From Lapu-Lapu to Leon Kilat, to the WW2 guerillas and to the brave men and women of the police and the armed forces.  We are gifted with the agility and ability to counter aggression that it is but natural for us to easily adapt to combat sports. 

Likewise, with our size, speed and nimbleness, we are much suited for track and field events. Just imagine the dexterity of jaywalkers dodging speeding vehicles on highways and the notoriety of snatchers who routinely evade chasing lawmen. 

To the best of my knowledge, only one boxer had defeated a Russian on the square ring. Apollo Creed tried and died that frenemy Rocky Balboa took revenge and spun cobwebs on the supposedly indestructible Ivan Drago. In the truer setting, even Sen. Manny Pacquiao haven’t fought nor won over a Russian boxer.  Then, less than a week ago, Nesthy Petecio did the unexpected on foreign soil, just like Rocky Balboa.

We are traditionally a force in international boxing competitions.  Likewise, our martial artists are giving exceptional performances.   I don’t know if it is being done already but it would be nice if the national sporting associations involved would pour more resources in the training and development of these athletes.

Except for the more affluent schools, most of our elementary and high schools around the country lack the facilities and equipment for training.  These schools could focus more in martial arts as training can be held inside a vacant classroom.  I’m sure that if done properly, we will have a strong talent pool. Let’s give more love and affection to our track and combat sport athletes. They have the most potential to produce medals in international competitions.

Let basketball take a backseat.  Admittedly, it is an exciting and glamorous sport and millions upon millions of pesos had already been spent yet, we still suck in the world stage.

bobbytoohotty@lycos.com

bobbymotus1961@gmail.com

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