GENERAL SANTOS CITY: Basketball, like any other sports, is a game played by sportsmen, who valued sportsmanship and humility as rules.
Thus, declared boxing icon Manny Pacquiao in reaction to the players’ fight that punctuated the Australia-Philippine game on Monday’s International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers third window qualifier at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
“Basketball should be played the way it should be played. While often times games turned physical, basketball is unlike boxing or martial arts disciplines where violence is, sometimes the rule rather than exception,” Pacquiao pointed out.
“In boxing, protagonists touched gloves at the start of the match after the referee had reminded them to fight clean and fair. When somebody falls, we even help him stand up. Hitting him while down is taboo and there is point deduction for each violation.”
“We even hug each other after the fight, to remind us that we’re both human, thank each other for giving the fans enjoyment,” the Philippine senator stressed.
“I commend both teams for apologizing for what happened. The Australians for apologizing first. And the Philippine team for reciprocating. That’s sportsmanship, and humility for you,” Pacquiao said.
“What else is new? A total embarrassment for the country without equal,” The Manila Times’ chairman emeritus, Dr. Dante Ang, who had just been re-appointed by President Rodrigo Duterte as Presidential special envoy for international public relations for his part, commented.
Dr. Ang’s view was shared by former Philippine Olympic Committee president Jose “Peping” Cojuangco and Triathlon Association of the Philippines head Tom Carrasco.
David Sisson, Pacquiao’s personal assistant, agreed with his boss’ observations that while basketball is turning out to be a physical game, “it should not go to the extent of hitting and kicking someone who’s already down.”
“Throwing chair to somebody’s head while down on the floor is inexcusable,” Sisson, a Christian pastor, lamented.
Former national players and coach Jimmy Mariano, Padim Israel and NLEX assistant mentor Adonis Tierra, likewise, agreed with Dr. Ang’s sentiment besides condoning, too, Team Pilipinas players and coaches for engaging their Australian counterparts to fight.”
“Being a host team, nakakahiya tayo,” Mariano, skipper of the 1973 Asian champion Philippine team, deplored. “Our good image in the international basketball scene washed out baka ma-suspend pa tayo ng FIBA.”
Israel, in the hand, appealed for calm and sobriety, saying, “while violence should not be condoned, there seems to be a back story that eventually led to what happened. It could have and should’ve been controlled early on.”
Former Columbian Dyip head coach Ricky Dandan said, “ what happened was unfortunate, but I understand our players for reacting that way.”
For two-division boxing champion Gerry Peñalosa what happened provided additional enjoyment to the crowd. “Thank you to both teams for giving the fans additional entertainment.”
For the ordinary men and women on the streets though, what happened should serve as warning to other athletes in the world, that they cannot take Filipinos for granted because of their size, appearance and color.
“Sa simula pa lang nagkakatirahan na kasi naririnig sa TV na ‘yung dayuhan daw sinasabihan ng masasamaa at ini-insulto ang mga Pilipino,” one television listener attested. “Mabuti na nangyari para di natayo maliitin sa susunod.”
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