Fighting spirit

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THE Filipino has tons of fighting spirit. He uses it up to the last drop of his blood, so to speak.

Take the case of Gilas Pilipinas, which is set to do battle in the Fiba World Cup of basketball. It’s been busy as a bee trying to unearth ways on how to do well in the tournament that we are co-hosting with Japan and Indonesia starting in August.

Needless to say, the massive event features the world’s best practitioners of the sport. It’s literally a coming out party showcasing the who’s who in the game invented by Canadian James Naismith in 1891.

OK, some more bits of history?

The Fiba (World Basketball Federation) has organized the Fiba World Men’s Cup in 1950 and the Fiba World Women’s Cup in 1953.

Both events are held every four years, alternating with the Summer Olympics.

They were purely amateur undertakings until the Fiba opened the door to professionals for Olympic participation in 1989. That triggered the birth of that iconic “Dream Team” from the NBA (National Basketball Association), unleashing the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson and Larry Bird, three of the greatest players of all time. They were joined in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics by David Robinson, Patrick Ewing, Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, John Stockton, Scottie Pippen, Christian Laetner, Clyde Drexler and Chris Mullin. Left out of the team that sparked animated debates was the ball wizard Isaiah Thomas, whose outspokenness on some issues cost him his slot in the Dream Team.

Expectedly, Jordan & Co. gained their reign in Spain in 1992 almost unchallenged, playing true to their undisputed billing as the greatest basketball team ever assembled in history.

Now back to Gilas Pilipinas.

We should be glad that Gilas Coach Chot Reyes is personifying to the letter the fighting spirit spin. He’s been digging up the bowels of the earth in a colossal bid to find a way to accomplish yet again his Fiba World Cup mission with decency and dignity.

Even as Chot knows fully well that his boys are to scale a Mount Everest-like mountain, he is undaunted—his fighting spirit keeping the fire burning in his belly.

He has brought his squad to Europe for tune-up games, a truly expensive exercise designed solely to jack up the team’s morale, courage and confidence.

Chot should be grateful for the stout support from Al S. Panlilio, the nation’s energetic basketball chief, and MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan), the team’s chief financier from Day One. The duo are but two of the many other vigorous supporters—the legion of fans foremost—whose fighting spirit is keeping the country’s hopes alive amid adversity.

If it’s for flag and country, anytime, it’s a cause worth fighting for.

THAT’S IT Cheers to Yuka Saso, the Philippine-born Japanese, for finishing second on Monday to China’s Ruoning Yin in the Women’s PGA (Professional Golfers’ Association) Championship in Baltusrol at Springfield, New Jersey, USA. Give it to Yin, 20, who won by sinking a pressure-packed 10-foot birdie on 18 to win by a shot over Saso, who had also birdied the par-5 hole earlier. Saso, 22, who captured the 2021 US Open that will be played starting next week, earned $800,000-plus to Yin’s $1.5 million. Not bad.

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