This, above all:

This, above all: To be God's best for The Coach and for Anna

Monday, August 21, 2006

Battle of the Katipuneros 2

Seven things distracted me from enjoying yesterday's game of the Katipuneros, a game that highlighted the best and worst of UP’s gameplay.

The seven, in no particular order:

A jackhammer behind me, about 50 to 55 years old, with gray hair and a voice that drills into your skull. Whew, grandma, what big tonsils you have!

A mother of an Atenean, she was abusing anyone who dared even clap for UP, picking fights, shouting obscenities. I was kept busy pacifying the UP supporters, players’ girlfriends and parents around me who were determined to give her an eye for an eye: “Please,” I said, “just let her be.”

Her picture is purposely blurred, dear reader, to protect her identity, for I do not wish her ill. I learned later from my Ateneo friends that she is named B, a word that can mean infantile—apropos, yes? B harangued the players, wishing them bodily harm (really) and cursing with her hands. Had she vilified The Coach, this post would not be written here but in a counter-affidavit, explaining why I leapt over the railing and slugged her.

I was told much later that photos of B had been splashed recently on a website or blog run by a student of a rival school. In a series of frames that I still have to google for, B is seen praying, eyes closed and hands together; then she is seen screaming at the court, her face distorted in anger; then, in a final act of piety, she jabs the air with her hands, both her third fingers fully extended, in the unmistakable dirty sign.

“Ano?” an Atenean said when I recounted B's recent behavior. “'Di pa ba siya natuto?” Apparently not. But she did learn to be more observant of her surroundings just in case someone nefarious, like me, would again take her photos.

After the game, B scrambled to the empty chair beside me and asked politely if I took her picture. “Yes,” I said, unperturbed but startled at her sudden courtesy. “You wanna see?” She said she had seen me clapping for Ateneo and that I looked like a nice girl (meaning I would not write something like this in my blog). She said someone had taken my picture in case I would do anything bad with the ones I took of her—like show them to the rival school, perhaps? That’s when I told her that (i) my heart is with UP when it comes to basketball; (ii) I am an Ateneo alum, Batch ‘91 Law School, passed the bar, yes, therefore a lawyer and therefore no pushover, never mind that I usually sponge help off my lawyer-friends nowadays when it comes to actual lawyering—it works well with erring MMDA, too, you know, just as it works with mothers, like it did with B. When people ask me if I regret wasting fourteen years in law school and in practice before discovering fiction, I always tell them of the time an MMDA officer wrongfully accosted me for swerving. A valid I.D. issued by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines, plus tears, equals freedom from tyranny.

B smiled and said, “O.K. Thank you.” A true portrait of many a sports fan: rabid during the game, but nice afterwards. I wonder: which one is the more accurate? Perhaps both?

To be fair, there were many other UP and Ateneo fans who had been as—if not more—vituperative than B.* But since she was the one behind me, alas, she gets top billing.

Binondo (and, I was told, also Cebu, yet another fertile marketplace for game betting) pegged a +6 ½ margin on UP, which translated, of course, into wanton officiating. Sorry for this tired refrain, but, yes, drat it, the refereeing was brazenly lopsided. Fifty-one free throws given to Ateneo—the highest ever, even higher than the record 48 free throws in UP’s first game against Ateneo. Fifty-one against, what, a lousy 17 against UP! (Postscript: I know, I know. Our plays are often made away from the hoop and UP is not the most sterling in its defense, but, still, did you witness the officiating?)

We saw so many hand checks against UP, traveling by Blue Eagles, fouls by Salamat against Marvin Cruz, Ford Arao's charging (he lowered his shoulder; ergo, a charge) that was, horrors, called against Migs de Asis.

The cotton candy, which kept bobbing up and down at the end of a blue stick, was color blue. Isn’t cotton candy supposed to be pink? Yeegads, even the cotton candy girl was pro-Ateneo.

The UP walkout in the second quarter, caused by what I know is a single referee’s arrogance or stupidity. Your pick. I wanted the Maroons to just abandon the game, the sportsmanship of basketball having been sacrificed anyway to the bookies controlling the referees. But Coach Joe wanted the team to stay true to its calling, to return and play. That’s just the kind of guy he is.

Top to tip of me nervously rooting for The Coach and Coach Ramil Cruz, who, after Coach Joe had been sadly thrown out of the game, had to take up the coaching duties. I was so worried for them; it is my job to worry and get acid reflux. I was so proud of them (and so was Coach Joe; he pumped The Coach's hand later that night for "coaching well"), for they both led the team well. The Maroons ran neck and neck with the taller, stronger, older Ateneo veterans until the final quarter when, alas, Marvin became his colorless self. Marvin had played excruciatingly well in the first three quarters—he always does—which severely highlighted his lackluster** performance in the final stretch...sigh, he often does.*** I’m not assigning blame on Marvin (and this is my blog, not The Coach’s, therefore my own opinion, awright, dears? Because, yes, I have my own brain), particularly since UP was also playing against the referees (who were sloughing off our players one at a time), but had Marvin continued with his streak, it would’ve been a different ball game, in spite of.

Four intense Maroons supporters in front of me, who couldn’t help standing up despite their cushy P250 seats (P750 to P1,000 if you buy from the scalpers). They were nice girls, though, so I gave up after a while and started reading my…

…new books! Whee! Fresh from the sale at the nearby National Superstore (going on until September 17, folks), and particularly this one, Caroline See’s Making a Literary Life: Advice for Writers and Other Dreamers. It is, according to its author, for “older people who wanted to write in their youth and never got around to it.” Yowzah. That’s me, Caroline. It’s more Zen-like advice than craft, but that suits me fine. Enough to cause me to pray for more timeouts so I can read the first few chapters.

Gotta go before I ruffle more feathers. Ah, yes, the power of the written word. Matthew Broderick's character in one war movie (he was a diarist) said something like, "I learned something today. People believe in things I write. The minute I put my thoughts on paper, something magical happens. They figure if you put so much effort in writing it down, it must be true."****

* The Coach got a call sometime yesterday evening about a scuffle between UP and Ateneo supporters at the Dencio’s branch at the Araneta. I heard UP might have started it, and an Atenean might have been hurt. Sad. And sorry. For both schools, as well as the league.

** To clarify to the innumerable Marvin fans, lest they flash-mob me, I use the word lackluster to mean lacking in brilliance, which, given Marvin's extraordinariness, may mean he played only average. Which, to me, was sadly not enough.

*** Marvin is an incredible player. There is no one in today's league who can stop him. But his fourth-quarter play is killing his chances at the MVP plum. He reportedly said that he gets rattled at the end game, a condition—
choking, it is called—not uncommon among, say, golfers and tennis players. He might want to work on that: it is also killing UP's chances this year. Perhaps it's unfair to foist that much responsibility on him, it's true, but the fact of the matter is that he's one of only three veterans in the team. Circumstances are such that he could either be a savior or an ordinary player.

**** A superfluous footnote--for the Polymath.


Charo said...

Hmm. Maybe you should delete his name from that comment of mine lest "B" is the kind of person who bears a long grudge and starts hunting him down. :)

janet said...

Yup, I deleted your earlier post na lang, Char (can't edit a portion lang eh). Best not to fan the flames of B.

Whatta small world, no? Haven't had the pleasure of meeting VI, but his name is super familiar.

Wish I could see the photos he took of her, though. Any chance of that?

khumechu said...

Anybody who quotes from Biloxi Blues must be wise. Unless he or she is trying to conceal her age :P

Frustrating. I just wanted to leap into the court and shake those referees until their heads came off. Shout "Let the boys play!" repeatedly at their heads while it rolled along the court. Ah yes, imagery... not a tool for the mediocre :P

I almost rocketed off my lower box seat and into ringside when they called that blocking foul that got Coach Joe thrown out (It seems that the referees were instructed to eject Coach Joe if possible). I shouted a few things, one of which was "win at any cost!" directed at the Ateneo fans which overran the UP side of the Coliseum. The UP side that was mostly Ateneo fans (B****t, I hate you for selling UP tickets to Ateneo, I say that lovingly). It was probably unfair to say as the fans didn't have anything to do with it, and probably don't know better. For the fans, referee calls are relative. A bad call against an opposing team is good.

Exasperating. The Philippine basketball world remains flat, until someone proves it round.

Oh yes, The Coach did do a good job. Kudos!

khumechu said...

Oh yeah, National Bookstore and Powerbooks 70% off sale, that at least is a very good thing (*drool*).

janet said...

Hi Khumechu! How about wise + concealing age? He he. Must be age, actually. I had even forgotten the title. Thanks for reminding me.

Yeah, NABRO has it in for Coach Joe, not all, but many of its members.

The Coach thanks you for your kindness. Go UP!

Charo said...

VI is one of the original writers/editors of m|ph. Poch and Adel would know him. :)

So yes. I guess you could get in touch with him and ask about it. :D

bitoy said...

Ma'am Janet, the officiating in the UP-Ateneo game was simply HORRIBLE. i cannot believe that these referees have the balls to punish the entire UP squad just because they wage revenge against Coach Joe Lipa.

UAAP has truly gone crazier!

p.s.: Ma'am, may comment na po ba kayo regarding my previous suggestion of the UP MBT training with the best US NCAA teams (e.g. UCLA Bruins, Florida Gators)? :-)

janet said...

Hi Char. That's right. I saw his name in the the mag. Kaya pala.

Hi Bitoy! Sorry, I forgot to get back to you. Training in the US sounds great, but The Coach says the costs far outweigh the benefits. It might not be feasible at this point, at least for UP. I know Ateneo travels for training, but that's coz its alumni support is phenomenal.

Ako naman, I think we need to exhaust our remedies here first before we take on a major project like that. I think all that we need for the team to work cohesively is here. We also need to recruit guys for the post.

In any case, the UP squad went to Taiwan last summer for some tune-up games. The coaches have been trained abroad: Coach Joe's mentor and friend is Bobby Knight--from whom he probably got his pongalangala intensity. He he. The Coach has visited and trained under many NCAA coaches, including Roy Williams in 1995 and 1997 (then Kansas Jayhawks, now UNC), Lon Kruger in 2000 (then University of Illinois, now UNLV), Dick Bennett also in 2000 (then University of Wisconsin, now Washington State), plus some 6 others. Sometimes I joined him and got to watch NCAA games live (INTENSE!!!!), like when he visited Georgetown. The Coach wanted me to meet then Hoyas coach Craig Esherick, who was a lawyer before he shifted full-time to coaching. :)

You know what's funny. A few years ago I was telling The Coach that I wanted to study to become a referee, but my motives were very vain: I just wanted to be the first woman referee, and an outstanding one at that, ha ha. The Coach took me seriously for some seconds, but junked the idea when he saw I wasn't that committed to work at it.

janet said...

Bitoy, I forgot to ask: Why the Gators and the Bruins, in particular? Curious lang. :)

bitoy said...

Hi Ma'am Janet! well, i came out with the idea of the Maroons training with either the Bruins or the Gators simply because these two teams were on top of everybody else in the US NCAA. University of Florida is current NCAA basketball champion after defeating UCLA. :-)

regarding alumni support, i really wish UP has alumni who are willing to contribute something to the development of the university, most especially with its sports programs. doon tayo tinatalo ng alumni ng ADMU, DLSU at UST eh. :-(

bitoy said...

oh... i also forgot to mention that both UCLA and the University of Florida are public universities similar to UP. i am wondering if State U can use its linkeages with Florida and UCLA in order to help the UP MBT train with their respective MBTs. :-)

janet said...

Bitoy: O nga, ano? Public universities nga ang Florida and UCLA. Perhaps that is well worth checking out. Will tell The Coach about it. :)

We have to build a good team first before we can get more support. But lemme tell you how gratified I am with your and many other students'/alums' support. Kakatuwa din--manalo, matalo you are all there. That is true support, regardless. Thank you so much, Bitoy!

Maryanne Moll said...

i do not understand basketball. i do not like it. i think it's a pointless game, like golf. but if i were married to a basketball coach myself i'd gladly attend every game of his team.

as fate -- or the randomness of the universe -- would have it, you got your basketball games while i got the global war on terror. (not that it's pointless, but that it scares the hell out of me knowing his life is always on the line.)

way to go, janet! i wish you strength and fortitude.

(and me, too, i guess. hay!)

janet said...

Maryanne, indeed! Perhaps if I weren't married to a coach, I wouldn't be as rabid. I remember what a bewildered sitcom character said when she chanced upon one game on TV: "Why don't they just give each one a ball? That way they won't have to fight for it." :) But, as it is, I do love the game. That and badminton.

Please be safe, M.

bitoy said...

hi Ma'am Janet! :-)

what you said about the team and the support it is getting from the UP community is very much true. although die-hard Maroons fans such as myself have always been there for the UP MBT, the sentiment of the majority within the UP community can be described as apathetic. the majority would only go out and support the team if and only if the Maroons can bring "good results", i.e. win more games, be in the Final Four and win the championship title, which is not an easy feat. that is exactly the reason why Maroons fans such as myself are hoping that the UP MBT will be able to make it into the Final Four this season in spite of the odds that it has to face.

reality tells me though that 2006 may not be the breakout year for the UP Fighting Maroons. however, i am very optimistic that the UP coaching staff will be able to transform the Maroons from perennial whipping boys of the UAAP into perennial Final Four finishers and title contenders come 2007. a very strong UP Fighting Maroons, finishing in the Final Four and becoming UAAP seniors' basketball champions, will not only bring utmost joy and pride to State U's diverse community but also that much needed support that the MBT and other sports teams would need from the alumni and other members of the UP community.

again, please convey to Coach Joe, Coach Jojo, Coach Ramil and the rest of the UP coaching staff and the entire UP MBT my best wishes to them. i will always and forever will be a UP FIGHTING MAROONS SUPPORTER. :-)

bitoy said...

for the die-hard Maroons fan. taken from

Pag Nananalo ang Maroons Ko
(to the tune of Gary Granada's "Pag Nananalo ang Ginebra")

Sinusundan ko ang bawat laro
Ng koponan kong naghihingalo
Sa bawat bolang binibitaw
Di mapigilang mapapasigaw

Kahit hindi relihiyoso
Naaalala ko ang mga santo
O, Santo Tomas at San Ignacio
Sana manalo ang Maroons ko

Ngunit ang aga nilang nagkalat
Bawat diskarte nasisilat
Nagkasundo kaming magkakampi,
Na ang labo kasi ng referee!
Ang buong UP parang napeste
Natambakan agad kami ng bente
Parang bansa'y nagkaleche-leche
At na-reelect ang presidente

Pagbigyan nyo na ako
Paminsan-minsan lang ito
Gumaang ang nabibigatang puso
Pagbigyan nyo na ako
Sa munting hilig kong ito
Kung hindi baka mag-away pa tayo

Nang second half ay mag-umpisa
Nag-umpisa ang ratsada nila
Ipit na pukol ni Nestor David
Kahit fi-noul ay pasok pa rin
Ang double team nila'y walang epekto
Sa alee-hoop at alahoy ni Marvin
Sunod-sunod sa magkabilang kanto
Three points nina Epres, Migs at Martin

Opensa nila ay nasasaling
Sa hustle nina Serios at Miggy Maniego
Halos ang bola ay di makatawid
Dahil sa depensa ni Buyco na sobrang higpit
Ang execution ay swabeng-swabe
Sa mga plays ni Coach Joe Lipa
Biglang umugong ang buong palibot
Mukhang maglalaro na rin si Woody Co

Pagbigyan n'yo na ako
Paminsan-minsan lang ito
Gumaang ang nabibigatang puso
Pagbigyan n'yo na ako
Kahit na kahit paano
Sumaya nang bahagya itong mundo

Tatlong minuto pa ang natitira
Nang kami ay nakahabol na
Sa isang iglap nagpalit ng score
Lamang na kami, 99-94
Bumabalik sa aking isip
Ang nililigawan ko noong freshman
Napapatawad ko na ang Ateneo
Pag nananalo ang Maroons ko

O kayganda ng aking umaga
Feeling ko wala akong asawa
At ang dati kong girlfriend ay hiwalay na
Pag nananalo ang Maroons ko

janet said...

Bitoy, oks 'to ah! Kaso lang, I'm not even familiar with the Gary Granada song. But I'll check it out. Hee hee.

bitoy said...

a very nice article about Coach Joe Lipa from an Atenean's perspective. :-)

janet said...

Oo nga, what a great article. I've been meaning to email the author. Finally! Someone who understands Coach Joe! :) There have been many Ateneans who failed to recognize that he had built the team before Coach Joel Banal reaped the championship.

Anonymous said...


I happened to run across a link to this site while browsing "the rival school's" forums today.

She's still as feisty as ever, eh? Well, good for her.

- V.I.

P.S. Hi Charo! And Maryanne Moll = PhilMUG!

janet said...

Hey, VI! You're the guy I should ask about B's pictures. :) The Internet squeezes the world even smaller. I keep wanting to join PhilMUG, too, but life keeps getting in the way.

Anonymous said...

Heck, I think I still even have B's phone number, if you want that =p

Yes, the world is getting incredibly claustrophobic. Case in point - I just got off the phone with Adel because my younger sister (freshly gradded) was pestering me to follow up her application to Hinge!

Drop me a line. It's my name ... no spaces or dashes or lines between my first and last names.