October 13, 2013
I was traversing Espana towards Morayta, Manila when traffic gridlock greeted me. As I crawled my way inch by centipede inch to Lacson, I was greeted by MMDA enforcers pointing to either go right or go left because that stretch up to P. Noval in front of University of Santo Tomas was close. I thought, after last night’s painful Game Three loss by the Tigers to the La Salle Archers, the pontifical school decided to close shop and dragged that part of the street along with it in bitterness. I was wrong, of course, as my pregnant wife, who attended high school at La Salle-Lipa before braving the bustling, dangerous streets of Manila by going to college at UST, told me later it was exam week for law students, that’s why it was closed.
But this blog isn’t about the traffic nor the law exam at UST. It’s about a piece I read in our Facebook page at the Philippine Sports Association, a group of the country’s top sportswriters mostly from print and some from online. It was a piece written by Lito Tacujan, one of the best, if not the best, in the sportswriting business today. Incidentally, he is also my sports editor at The Philippine STAR. You know The STAR, the paper your read from cover to cover. Pardon my shameless plug.
You see, my boss has been in the business for about four decades now. And just like every single one of us sportswriters, he breathes sports and basketball. He’s also a UST alumnus, the reason he wrote this masterpiece, another one of his many collections. And it’s my honor to share it with you guys.
And here it is:
Sorry for these private thoughts but being a Thomasian, I know how bad we felt about the UST loss. It is even painful for one who after over 40 years of seeing cliffhangers and thrillers felt he would be jaded enough not to react to this kind of heartbreak loss.
But I would rank this in the same level as the 2006 Busan shock defeat. Not so much of the trauma of losing big, not unlike being felled by a Pacquiao KO punch. At least that kind of a killer blow you don’t see coming.
But this UST loss to La Salle, you feel like being short- changed– despair and disgust taking over on top of the frustration and woes of blowing a clear won game, like some Greek tragedy ready to unravel to its sad ending.
As if we’re destined to lose.
Consider: KarimAbdul was missing crucial shots in the last period because he had spent himself keeping the initiative for the Tigers earlier. This was further compounded by the early fouls incurred by UST big man Paolo Pe.
Coach Pido, who rose above talks on his coaching ability and subtleties in the preseason, i felt, got ‘ lost in transition’ , squandering a 15-pt lead n the same quarter it was established.
And the most galling. Aljon Mariano refusing to pass the ball to Jeric Teng, who was ready to do or die for one last shot at history, destiny, UST.
and as the crowd held its breath, Aljon took the stupid trey when a high percentage perimeter shot would have settled the issue. This coming from a huddle!
And the same guy fired the errant pass that led to turnover and la salles game-winning play. It made you think something was amiss in the team, particularly in the endgame.
How sad. You cannot help but grieve for the the Tigers and UST fans. It was our championship to win or lose ..no, more than a championship..losing it this way literally opens a chasm in us, probably where our pride was, for the wars in UAAP do not only involve school interplay for excellence but all the things we believe in and embraced in USTe– hope, faith, loyalty.And losing it leaves us somehow on a low ebb and empty. Until the next season.
Lito A Tacujan
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(Photo by August dela Cruz of the Phl Daily Inquirer)