What a Wednesday! What, you missed it? Again. Come on, man! This is just ridiculous. If we weren’t such nice guys, we’d stop this column entirely and leave you high and dry while your buds talk about the action that went down the night before. But no, we love you. No homo. And we all love this beautiful game. Plus, I’m sure that one day I’ll miss a game and I hope ya’ll return the favor and fill me in.
So here’s the lowdown on the doubleheader, where a streak ended, and a 40-point hero turned into a 6’9″ zero all because of one errand pass. That and a childish fear of taking big free throws. Here are your top three details, ICYMI:
Chris Ross is a man with a plan. Whether it’s finding Sunday Salvacion for a transition three, orchestrating the Meralco offense, being their best perimeter defender or finding a sliver of space to drive and score himself, Ross has it all mapped out.
And with only seconds left in a game they had all but thrown away – against Michael Dunigan of all people – the Meralco captain still had another ace up his sleeve. He telegraphed the downright ridiculous pass Dundun tried to throw crosscourt. He had the presence of mind not to call a timeout, leading to a Mark Isip foul. He made two huge free throws after missing four in a row. Then to top it all off, he took the ball away – from Mike Cortez of all people – to seal the win.
All that after committing a couple of errors that looked to spell doom for them. All that after getting a hard hit just minutes before. One that he said he thought “broke his ribs.” Well his ribs turned out fine but that gruesome photo above (not of the beard, look higher) is of the cut he had to have stitched up after his Player of the Game performance.
Six stitches right across the eyebrow. In exchange for 12 assists and a second consecutive gutsy one-point win. I think Chris Ross is okay with that Math.
RG. Man, I love this guy. No homo (I say that too often. Crap). Maybe I’m biased because of the time we’ve spent working together as a broadcast panel for the NCAA. He’s always prepared as an analyst, generous with his knowledge and all in all, a really fun guy to be around. He cracks jokes, ribs on the officials and is unafraid to call a bonehead play a bonehead play, on air or not.
But immediately after Cliff Hodge threw the ball 15 feet into the air as the buzzer marked their victory, everyone got a peek into the type of coach, and the type of man Ryan Gregorio is. He loves basketball. He loves playing it the right way. He loves how beautiful bouncing a ball and throwing it into a hoop can be. But just as much, the dude loves to win.
He punched the air like it owed him money, shouted so emphatically you’d think he was letting out a demon within him, enjoyed the victory so much so you thought it was the playoffs. All this while moving towards the opposing bench to shake their hands. But you see, it had nothing to do with Franz Pumaren. It wasn’t a punk move. It was a coach proud to have won, proud to have seen his players show heart. It was a coach, who after making wildly controversial moves in the offseason, feeling relief over the fact that despite what we might have thought, may have been right all along after all.
Calvin Abueva, much like you and me, maybe even more, hates to lose. Calvin Abueva however, unlike you and me, can smile through it all. The Beast was welcomed by a typhoon of boos as he went up against the man they used to call Boy Thunder and the rest of the San Mig Coffee Mixers.
Everytime he shot the ball, booooo!
Everytime he fell to the floor, booooo!
Everytime they showed him on the big screen, BOOOOO!
Everytime they booed however, Calvin smirked it off.
Now whether or not the heckling affected his game, I have no idea of determining. What I do know is this, so-so players don’t get booed that much, if at all. Even Mac Cardona gets a pass from Ginebra fans when he’s not playing a good game. And that’s saying a lot because the Barangay really can’t stand Macmac.
The realization here is that the guy we all thought would fail, or fizzle out, or fade, or not translate, has become a full-fledged star. It’s not when you hear cheers from fans. It’s not when you’re paid the huge bucks. It’s not even when you bring home the trophies.
It’s when the opposing fans are so aware of your capacity to beat them that they go to the trouble of specifically booing you, just cos they saw your face. And I can understand why San Mig Coffee fans just got louder and louder. Calvin kept missing, SMC kept rolling, but Abueva just kept on smirking.
Nakakinis nga yun.
But that’s The Beast for you. Good or bad, he is very, very, very much unlike you and me.
Photos c/o Interaktv and from Chris Ross