Donning the country's flag and colors is not just about winning. It is also about representing the values that Filipinos are known for.
Every Filipino athlete dreams to represent flag and country in any international event, may it be the Olympics, continental multi-sport events, or even regional competitions. Despite a lack of substantial support coming from the government and national sports agencies, our Filipino athletes risk life and limb during training and actual games in order to give pride to our nation of sports lovers.
This is why it is unfortunate that some players of our Gilas Pilipinas Basketball team became overly passionate and emotional in wearing our country's colors last Monday, 2 July 2018, at the Philippine Arena. Pissed by the antics pulled off by some Australian national team ballers, they engaged in a fist fight with their counterparts termed by many as “The Basketbrawl in Bocaue." While our players may have gotten bruises, the scuffle that happened between our national team and the Australian Boomers is a black eye not only to the sport of basketball but also to the image of Philippine athletes in general.
The Bocaue incident should not be seen though as representative of the general behavior and demeanor of the Filipino athlete. Filipino athletes are known around the world as gracious winners and losers. Furthermore, the rags-to-riches stories of our athletes have served as an inspiration to the international sporting community. History will bare how our athletes have generally conducted themselves both at the local and international sporting arena.
Our national basketball team players have already taken the first step to rectify the negative perception created by the incident on the image of Filipino athletes. National team members Jayson Castro and Japeth Aguilar have already publicly apologized for their inappropriate actions. While their apologies may not erase the horrendous memories of the Bocaue incident, these will certainly go a long way in reminding the world that sportsmanship remains a core value of our Filipino athletes.
There are various opportunities in the future for our athletes to amend the wrongs of the Bocaue incident. Next year, the country is slated to host the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Pending the decision of FIBA, the Philippines will host 2nd round games of the 2019 FIBA-Asia qualifiers and co-host the 2023 FIBA World Cup of Basketball. These sporting events present an opportunity for our athletes to show the world that they are not only world-class in talent, but also in attitude.
Donning the country's flag and colors is not just about winning. It is also about representing the values that Filipinos are known for- our being warm, hospitable, and gracious. Let us remind our Filipino athletes to exhibit these values both in victory and in defeat.
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