I just wanted to write about what The Coach and I look forward to each July since 1980 (for The Coach) and since 1986 (for me). Basketball is The Coach’s passion. For the game he would skip sleep. For the game he would spend time and money on training. The game has even cropped up in many a quarrel between us.
But what to write about? I hesitate to write not because UP has been losing its games, but because of the quality of those losses. Almost all of those losses should not have been, and the reasons are sad and…well, I will stop there. There’s not much I can say at this point without raising anyone’s hackles.
Still, there are other things I can share, including stuff I learned or remembered the last few days:
- We UP alums and students love our school. We will even fight each other to prove that. Which is sad, in a funny kind of way.
- At the stadium many of us fans cheer loudest when our team is leading, but predictably fall silent—perhaps in sympathetic dismay, anxiety or shock—when the team falls behind. Well, I say this is the moment our team needs our support the most. I say we should be noisier when our players are not doing as well as we hope. I say we support the team not because it’s winning, but because it’s our team.
- Many fans, even the most loyal among us, don’t know enough about basketball. Yes, including me. We cheer, jeer and analyze, but very few know the technicals of the game. We criticize and second-guess from our accountability-free vantage point, but we know so little.
- Sometimes the fan—or, yeegads, an occasional interfering parent or even a well-meaning university officer—who knows some about basketball is the more destructive. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Which leads me to my next point…
- Coaches know best.
- A coach’s job is highly political, perhaps more so for a UP coach. He has to contend with so much. More than the X’s and the O’s, he has to deal with different personalities with different perspectives and different agendas.**
- Alumni support is more often than not a Catch-22 situation, with shades of Field of Dreams: you build it, they will come. Except that to build it—a good team—you need alumni support. Which usually doesn’t come unless the team wins games. How’s that for a Gordian knot? UP, in particular, needs our support because it cannot fund its own sports programs. Many times our fundraisers entice support by proving that ours could be a winning team. But why? Support is not a commercial transaction that requires a give-and-take. We support the team, regardless. We paid a measly P500-semestral tuition in the 1980s, dagnabbit, and we can’t give back?
- A good college basketball program takes a few years to develop. We can never demand a strong finish in a coach’s early years unless the previous coach laid the foundation for a victory, and all the present coach has to do is take the pickings. There must be good recruiting beforehand, something that the Maroons, alas, will have to make up for since we didn’t do solid recruiting the last two years.
- It’s a given: schools with strong alumni support are more likely to attract the better players. Alums are crucial to the basketball program. Like I told The Coach: half of the game is won outside the court and before the season.
- The “university” portion in UAAP (University Athletic Association of the Philippines) is often overlooked and overshadowed by “athletic.” Sad.
- And, on a haha-hee hee note: the UAAP games are rated PG: Parental Guidance required. Check it out below. I can offer many reasons why, but that would violate my self-imposed gag order.
* My sparring partner Jonski, lest you flinch, I checked first if it’s all right to use forums. Heh.
** Alas, Jonski, the intricacies of using Latinate forms. I’m junking agendum and treating agenda as singular.