Mendoza: When winning is but a bonus

·2 min read

This time, we compete first, win second. It’s not always right to say that winning is everything.

Thus, when our Gilas Pilipinas players leave on Sunday for Bahrain, it should be clear to them what their mission is: To compete. Should they win—and I pray and hope they do—that’s but a bonus.

We have to face it. Our team, while composed of NCAA and UAAP stars, will take the plunge as greenhorns in an overseas war. Without experience, orphaned by our Philippine Basketball Association pros, our young warriors are but expected to grope their way into the FIBA Asia Cup set Nov. 26 to 30 in Bahrain’s Manama.

But in every war, though, luck is always a factor.

Like, have our opponents from Thailand, Indonesia and South Korea been able to form teams worthy of topping the event?

Or, like us, were they not also a bit hampered in assembling a team so hastily, scrounging for players from the debris of a shattered normal amid the pandemic?

Nobody really knows now what kind of stuff our foes are made of.

We face Thailand on Nov. 27, South Korea on the 28th, Indonesia 29th and Thailand again on the 30th. Historically, Thailand is not much of a problem for us. Indonesia is easily beatable. But not South Korea; a perennial headache.

However, the latest is, the Koreans are out, citing Covid-19. A big plus for us, if true.

So to our “kids” still wet behind the ears—Allyn Bulanadi, Rey Suerte, Isaac Go, twins Matt and Mike Nieto, Kobe Paras, brothers Juan Gomez de Liano and Javi Gomez de Liano, Calvin Oftana, Justine Baltazar, Will Navarro, Dave Ildefonso, Dwight Ramos, KMark Carino and Jaydee Tungcab—we wish you well. Carry the Filipino’s innate talent in the game with brimming pride.

I like what coach Jong Uichico said: “The team is young and inexperienced. That’s why we’re trying to keep things simple, things that the players can comprehend. They are willing learners and hard workers, so that’s something positive that we can look forward to. We hope we can get that chemistry as soon as possible.”

Compete, yes, but if you can win it, why not?

Give it your all then, and the gods of the game will do the rest.

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