Mendoza: Vietnam victory a given, not PH cagers’ loss

·2 min read

Vietnam won the 31st SEA Games even before the event could blast off on May 12 in Hanoi. That was as palpable as Manny Pacquiao losing in the presidential derby some two weeks ago.

But not the Philippine loss to Indonesia for the basketball gold on Sunday—the first defeat for us in 33 years.

In the SEA Games, we can lose all the events but not basketball, our national pastime. That said, let’s go back to Vietnam.

Vietnam won overall honors because a host’s victory in the biennial meet is cast in stone.

It’s an insane rule unfit for adults. But aren’t most games played by kids masquerading as grownups? And so, what do we see now?

A medal board littered with gold for Vietnam, whose gold collection is so massive it might yet outweigh Bongbong’s much-talked about Tallano gold chest.

With the Games barely a week old, Vietnam had already become unreachable, literally.

Thailand was just hopelessly chasing Vietnam. The gap is as ocean-wide the Thais would have been justified tossing in the towel in defeat that early. And why is that again?

Vietnam, by the ugliest of traditions, is allowed to stage any game of its own liking, maximizing its truncated advantage over a field that could do nothing but merely nod like willing subjects. A rule is a rule is a rule.

And so, with only a day left in the Games, Vietnam had 173 gold medals. That is 102 more than second-running Thailand’s gold haul of 71.

What kind of a regional competition do we have all these years? A host assured of victory even before the first bark of a gun is fired?

Why don’t Games officials just declare Vietnam the champ outright and allow the 10 other nations to fight it out for second? That way, Vietnam is spared from a mockery-laden performance? Whoa!

By the way, we finished fourth officially, out-medalling fifth-finishing Singapore.

It would have been a huge shame had we finished fifth behind Singapore, a tiny nation of only 5.3 million compared to our population of 110 million.

Meanwhile, let’s lick our wounds from that thoroughly painful defeat in basketball. We lost it fair and square.

“It’s on me,” said Gilas PH coach Chot Reyes.

That’s being man enough. Salutations.

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