Wednesday, November 3, 2010


On November 14, 2010, approximately twelve years after his historic victory against Chatchai Sasakul that was held at an open field of a State College in Thailand, Manny Pacquiao is going to face Antonio Margarito of Mexico. From fighting for a 112 lb weight limit title in 1998, he is now going to fight at a 154 lbs limit, notwithstanding the catch weight.

Manny's leap on the weight divisions would just be a point of the exclamation he had, from being an obscure fighter to being the best, pound for pound in the world. From fighting at empty gyms, to fighting at the best stadium ever built in the modern times. From selling pan de sal and sleeping at billiards table, to being one of the most infulential persons in the Philippines, and now even an endorser of some US candidates. In short, Manny is already made.

Quietly in the background, preparing for the Guangzhou Asian Games in the same month that Manny is going to fight Margarito, is a bunch of relatively unknown basketball players, aside from its three PBA reinforcements. This team, our National Basketball, Smart Gilas Team Pilipnas was conceptualized in 2008. Went through many roster changes. Had some encouraging and not so encouraging results in various tournaments they participated in. Yet the bottom line, and unless you are really a basketball follower, chances are, you don't know anything about them.

Twelve years ago, Manny Pacquiao would probably need to fight 12 times (or more) just to be at par with a single month's salary of the best player in the Centennial Team. Now, even if you combine the salary of the twelve players, including the three alternates, coaches, statisticians and ball boys of Smart Gilas, it would still not be enough compared to Manny's purse in one fight.

Twelve years ago, nobody gave Manny that much a chance of beating Sasakul. With his fight against Margarito, the odds are 6:1 in favor Manny. It is like saying that Manny will win, just by showing up.

On the other hand, our basketball team twelve years ago was expected to slug it out against China, with a real, legitimate chance of pulling an upset to win the gold. In this year's ASIAD, some sectors would even say that getting into the semifinals is already a miracle of sorts. While majority doesn't really care, doesn't really know, that we have a basketball team in the ASIAD, named Smart Gilas.

It would appear as if the tides have shifted. An ominous sign perhaps. Will history repeat itself, but with a different twist?

If reports are to be believed, unlike before, Manny Pacquiao is not really doing that much to secure a victory. If he is not training, then you will see him either, playing basketball, endorsing a product, endorsing a candidate, and singing in your favorite night time talk show. The skills, talent, and the thought to win is still there. But the fire, the hunger, the focus, is lacking, some might even say is absent. Antonio Margarito, for all intents and purposes is still a legit threat. Manny cannot and will not win this one, just by showing up.

The Asian Games is one of the milestone tournaments of Smart Gilas, having FIBA-ASIA 2011 as its main objective. Our Smart Gilas, is an obvious underdog on this tournament (ASIAD), but there are have reasons to believe that they will perform respectively on this tournament, not necessarily win the gold. For one, the expectations are already managed. We now have a respectable and working system, and a bunch of players, who had and who will sacrifice, in the most literal of sense limbs and lives for flag and country.

I am not saying and hoping that Manny will lose and Gilas will succeed. That is not skewed logic. I want Manny and Gilas to both succeed. But at the same time, I recognize the fact that at some point, Manny is bound to lose, either to a better fighter or against himself. Obviously, Manny is the better fighter against Margarito. So the biggest obstacle is the distractions brought by just being Manny Pacquiao. And ego, is the greatest and hardest opponent to beat. And of course, there will always be retirement.

In the past, I have always asked who would carry the torch for Philippine Sports when the inevitable comes. A lot has already been, said, done, and hyped as the next Manny Pacquiao. But where are they now? One by one, they fell, because there can only be one Manny Pacquiao.

In the case Manny decided to call it quits, it is high time that somebody or something would step up into the plate. The Filipinos needs something or someone to turn to, to follow every competitions with and to cheer for. A reason to be proud to be Filipino. Call it wishful thinking or anything, but in the event that Manny Pacquiao decides to pass on the torch, the most logical, sentimental, and monumental of all would be; our basketball team.

And so, skewed logic wishes Manny Pacquiao on his fight against Margarito, Smart Gilas, and all the athletes participating at the ASIAD, good luck, God Bless. Win or Lose, your countrymen, especially your relatives and neighbors will always be proud of you.


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