This, above all:

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

Friday, July 13, 2007

Beyond the X's and the O's

My shirt today read Marvelous Maroons, though my boys were anything but. They not only lacked Martin Reyes (downed by fever) and Magi Sison (downed by immaturity leading to a metacarpal fracture; heck, figure that out), they also were short on heft, height, composure, rebounding, and, it seems, the will to win.

They were missing lay-ups, three-pointers, and uncontested shots. They weren't passing the ball, their motion offense had no motion, and they weren't rebounding. Ateneo looked stellar in comparison, what with 30 rebounds more than UP had.

It should've been less of an uneven match: Even if UP is still rebuilding a team with its nine rookies, Ateneo also suffers the loss of three key players. To its credit, Ateneo does not play as if it were, as it is, handicapped, at least compared with other teams. Some say Ateneo might reach the Final Four, but would not be a serious contender. But don't tell that to the Ateneo: It wouldn't matter and they wouldn't care; those boys on the other side of Katipunan play with spirit and a big heart. I admire them for that.

It is true, what Coach Mark Jomalesa said to the boys yesterday, that when playing against the Ateneo, what matters more than the X's and the O's is energy and intensity—both of which were nowhere near the boys’ game today.

The Coach couldn't attend the game; he had an entire staff to run after his supervisor called in sick. He did his best, though; leaving his post, he went to the next-door sari-sari with a small TV set but no electricity. There was a generator, and The Coach, desperate, forked over money for someone to buy gasoline to power the generator. And so he was able to witness the massacre.

I write this at the Lavazza Caffe Espresso at The Fort, where the coaches have gone after dinner at Kaiseki to recover from the shocking 24-point loss.

This Sunday my boys will meet the powerhouse NU, with its formidable Asoro and Lingao-lingao. I'll be there with my Marvelous Maroons shirt, and hope it'll make a difference.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Half an hour

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, "What would be the use of immortality to a person who cannot use well a half an hour?"

I barely have time now, what with the demands of work and my rather imprudent decision to watch the game against Ateneo this afternoon at the oh-so-far Ninoy Aquino Stadium, but I choose to waste this half-hour to talk about my Maroons boys, never mind immortality.

We received quite a walloping last Saturday, the "luck" of the 777 having gone to the La Salle Archers, the best team money can buy. The DLSU boys were more efficient, clearly in command, hungry for the win after sitting out an entire year for conduct unbecoming of La Salle brothers—hence this year's UAAP motto: Honesty through sports.

My boys, rookies and sophomores, were overwhelmed by La Salle's patented full-court pressure. Migs de Asis wasn't defending, the boys weren't moving in offense, the rebounding was almost nil, and many were just feeling their way in the collegiate court.

Now with Magi Sison's untimely injury that'll sideline him for a month—he fractured his hand in a scuffle with a Team B player, dagnabbit—I wonder how my boys will fare against the Blue Eagles, particularly if Chris Tiu gets his 3-point groove back and Ford Arao is all warmed up, like diesel.

I'm anxious enough to not be satisfied with watching the game on TV and to brave the rains to see my boys, even while The Coach could not attend today's game, his Air 21 work getting in the way of what his heart truly desires.

Off to the stadium I go. I would like to sit near the UP alum whom I sat in front of last Saturday. Stinging from an impending loss, what could a UPian do but heckle? This man was purple and green in his prose. I was listening to his colorful commentary the entire game. He'd taunt the foreign-denominated La Salle team: "Pabiling isang Maienhoffer with cheese! With french fries, please!" And of course with a name like Atkins, a player would get a ribbing about his diet.

My half-hour's up.

My withness

With his helter-skelter sched, The Coach hardly has time for TV, but these days he'd gladly lose sleep over Commander in Chief. Tonight, after the segment where Mac Allen's mother still mourned for a husband long gone, The Coach hugged me and asked, "Will you miss me if I die?" I would, definitely, infinitely, and sprung on him the same question, almost flippantly, wanting to see if he'd give me a proper eulogy.

But now as he sleeps and the night is moonless, I am unnerved. What is life without this beautiful man, one who is—to borrow from Kate Knapp Johnson's Meadow—"my withness, my here"?

In the first years of our marriage, I would sometimes wake in the darkness, and not hearing The Coach's breathing above the hum of the air conditioner—he is not one to snore unless exhausted—I would slide my head down from my pillow to catch the silhouette of his chest against the muted light that filters through the curtains. I would monitor the rise and fall of his breathing, and only when so assured could I go back to sleep.

Many years of everydays calmed me, lulled me to thinking that together is a forever word. Until tonight.

Jane Kenyon

I got out of bed
on two strong legs.
It might have been
otherwise. I ate
cereal, sweet
milk, ripe, flawless
peach. It might
have been otherwise.
I took the dog uphill
to the birch wood.
All morning I did
the work I love.

At noon I lay down
with my mate. It might
have been otherwise.
We ate dinner together
at a table with silver
candlesticks. It might
have been otherwise.
I slept in a bed
in a room with paintings
on the walls, and
planned another day
just like this day.
But one day, I know,
it will be otherwise.

from Otherwise, 1996
Graywolf Press, St. Paul, Minnesota