That the country’s campaign in the football competitions of the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Phnom Penh, Cambodia has hit a snag is an understatement.
The Under-22 team, under new coach and former Azkals’ captain Rob Gier, suffered a humiliating 3-0 loss to Timor Leste Thursday evening to end their campaign in the biennial event with still a game to play. The squad is dead last in Group A with just a point in three games. Indonesia is currently on top of the standings with six points in two starts while host Cambodia is just two points behind. Myanmar and Timor Leste are next with 3 points apiece.
The U-22 will end its campaign against Myanmar. There are so many questions why the team failed miserably in the tournament. There are so many probable answers, too. Looking at the reactions of the fans in the so-called “embarrassment in Phnom Penh” will give you lots of ideas why. One thing is for sure, we played so bad. But in fairness to Gier, you can’t expect someone to fly in two weeks before the tournament and get good results. He barely knew the players.
The Azkals Development Team was created supposedly to prepare the country for the U-22 competitions in the South Asian Games. It may not be perfect with several issues and complaints raised before the tournament regarding salaries and other concerns. The program was created solely for the SEA Games. But in a typical Pinoy football drama, something happened. Somewhere along the way, those who spent money for the recruitment of the players, getting them here, took care of their accommodations, training, coaching them and other needs were not given a say on the team as it departed for Cambodia. I bet there are a lot of reasons, again, why this happened. Maybe, the powers at be, meant well, maybe they think they can do better, yet here we are looking at another failure at the SEA Games. Heck, we can’t even beat Timor Leste now.
Ang hirap talaga mahalin ang football sa ‘Pinas!
The Filipinas, on the other hand, got off on the wrong foot after absorbing a 1-0 loss at the hands of Myanmar.
Except for that questionable penalty, Myanmar played better against the Filipinas, who for some reasons lacked the grit, cohesiveness and determination they showed against several teams during their preparation for the SEA Games and as a whole, for the FIFA Women’s World Cup in July this year. Some say it was due to overconfidence, others added that it was because to the lineup used by Coach Alen Stajcic, even some suggested competitions at the biennial event are higher than the Olympic Qualifiers and several more reasons.
Bottomline is, we lost the game. No ifs, no butts. It was a massive wakeup call. The team needs to adjust fast and make the important changes. More importantly, the Filipinas need to be Malditas against Malaysia on May 6 and against heavy favorites Vietnam on the 9th to keep their hopes of another podium finish alive.
Hoping and praying that the Filipinas will get the Ws in their remaining games.
On a brighter note, the Philippine chess team is assured of at least a silver medal in the Ouk Chaktrang Cambodian Chess competitions. The pair of WGM Janelle Mae Frayna and WIM Shaina Mae Mendoza secured the silver in the Women’s Doubles 60 Minutes event. Frayna and Mendoza missed the gold after dropping a close match-up against Vietnam in the gold medal game.
In a quick chat with GM Jayson Gonzales, the head of the Philippine team, he said the Ouk Chaktang or Cambodian chess is different compared to regular chess for several reasons. “
In Ouk Chaktrang, they used an elephant instead of the bishop. The queen can only move initially on two squares straight ahead. Pawn promotion is on the sixth rank and forced to become a queen. There is no castling in Ouk Chaktrang but the moves for the king, the knight and the rook are basically the same. They may vary, however, in sizes and images,” Gonzales explained.
Gonzales is optimistic that the team can add more medals to their current tally.
All the best for our woodpushers. And likewise to the rest of Team Philippines!
The Designated Kit Man had a wonderful kumustahan with legendary bench tactician Coach Joe Lipa last weekend. Along with my co-chost Dennis Principe, classmate Peter Lopez and PBA Archives himself, Aris Garcia, Coach Joe shared so many valuable anecdotes and experiences that are applicable to basketball and life itself.
Coach Joe said among his most treasured moments is when he led the team that won the golden bronze in the Seoul Asian Games in 1986 featuring an all Filipino-born and future of Philippine basketball that included Alvin Patrimonio, Ronnie Magsanoc, Jojo Lastimosa, Elmer Reyes, Allan Caidic, Samboy Lim, Franz Pumaren, Eric Altamirano, Glenn Capacio, brothers Harmon and Jerry Codiñera and Jack Tanuan.
“‘Yung team na ‘yun parang nasa penitensya kami araw-araw. Araw-araw nasa Rizal Memorial Coliseum kami noon from 6 to 8 a.m. Ang init init. Tapos marami pa ang nagsabi noon na ang team na ‘yan ‘wag na papuntahin sa Asian Games. Labing dalawa ang maglalaban, pang labing tatlo ang mga ‘yan. Araw-araw bugbog kami ng mga batikos at mga negative comments,” he recalled.
He said that his boys persevered throughout the hard practices, even his boys were also playing for their collegiate and commercial teams, and the daily doses of “bashing” then.
“To make a long story short, we made it through the semifinals and could have advanced in the finals if not for that controversial charging call against Allan (Caidic). Napakamemorable nu’n kasi kasama ko talaga naghirap ang mga batang ‘yun,” he said.
Just like many Filipinos, Coach Joe is rooting for Gilas Pilipinas to do well in the forthcoming FIBA World Cup which the country is hosting.
“I’m hoping and praying for the national team kahit na nabalitaan ko na malalakas ang mga kabracket natin sa group,” Lipa added.
The Philippines will compete in Group A along with Angola, Dominican Republic and Italy.
Lipa also revealed that even before the small basketball, euro step, positionless basketball and several other terms were coined, his boys, especially his players on the national teams, were already doing them.
“Nauna na tayo gumagawa noon. ‘Yung euro step ginagawa na ni Elmer (Reyes) noon pa. Hindi lang natin alam ang tawag,” he jested.
But the most interesting thing, among the many lessons and takeaways he shared, the Designated Kit Man learned from Coach Joe was his own version of KOL. Not the usual Key Opinion Leader we see in marketing or powerpoint presentations but Coach Joe’s version is more understandable and easier to grasp. KOL for him means Keep on Learning not only on basketball but on other aspects of life as well.
“The height and the size of the ring have remained the same. The length of the court is the same as before, and despite some changes, the game is being played practically the same. The team with the higher score still wins the game. But it doesn’t mean that you will stop from learning, there are more things to learn and to improve from the game,” Lipa said.
From this alone, I believe that we can learn so much from the man that has seen the best and the worst of Philippine basketball and even life itself. And you don’t have to play basketball or coach a team to know that learni
Incidentally, Lipa’s book “Coach Joe’s Basketball 101, written with Lopez, is expected to come out soon this month. It’s a must for all basketball coaches out there and also for those who simply love the game of basketball. Please get your copy once it is available.
Please join us for another exciting episode of 3PTS-Pambansang Tambayan ng Sports this Sunday, May 7, from 2 to 3 p.m. over DZME 1530 khz. Sports memorabilia collector Dr. Michael Rico Mesina will be one of our featured guests.
Stay safe. Stay happy peeps!
For comments or questions, you can reach The Designated Kit Man at erel_ca[email protected] or follow his account at Twitter: @erelcabatbat