MICHAEL ANGELO ASIS - Hero ball
MICHAEL ANGELO B. ASIS

“Negosyo o kalayaan? Bayan o sarili? Pumili ka?”- Heneral Luna

The players have moved on, donning the uniforms of their respective mother teams that are their bread and butter. The coaches have also returned to their respective benches, setting aside their scouting reports for the other national teams and getting back to their PBA playbooks.

Coach Yeng Guiao has just been as gracious as one could be in this situation. He’ll return to his post as the head coach of NLEX, with a newly-trained Kiefer Ravena by his side. NLEX is one of three teams controlled by the Manny V. Pangilinan (MVP) group.

Ravena just served an 18-month suspension since a urine test during the time Gilas was in Australia yielded banned substances. The Gilas stint was his first sniff of competitive basketball since the suspension.

These are just facts that eventually led to speculation.

Talking about practice
Practice for Gilas was roughly 10 days, and for a part of those practices, the team didn’t have three of their key players. The NBA dictated that their active players cannot practice with their respective national teams sooner than 28 days before the start of the tournament. We do not have an active NBA player in our roster, but we do have a year-long PBA with three conferences.

Team US head coach Greg Popovich has praised his players, and team manager Jerry Colangelo made the passive-aggressive threat that they will “remember” the players who withdrew from the World Cup when they start to form the US Olympic team — the one which everyone wants to join.

The US and the Philippines are two of the most disappointed countries in the aftermath of the World Cup and they have both lamented the lack of heroes on their part. The USA’s dilemma will be easy to fix. They only need a realization, they have the tools (talented players) to reclaim their place, as they did in the 2008 Redeem Team in Beijing.

The Philippines is another matter, as there is a need for institutional changes — even changes in the value system. There would be new talks, new resolutions, and we will be sold on a new hope again.

Or we could take the pessimistic/pragmatic route—“we are not genetically gifted to play basketball so it’s better to focus on other sports.”

For love of the game
The Filipinos will not stop loving the sport, even when we were not even an Asian power and we kept losing to South Korea. Business will always pursue what will sell with the public. The PBA will live on, and they have the best selection of players. A Gilas project 2.0 will be costly for all involved and sustainability will be a huge question.

Coach Tim Cone has stated that hard truth that we have no choice but to send PBA players. Not even the USA can send a G-League selection after a team of legit NBA players, some of which are All-Stars, ended up 7th place.

“Hero ball” has taken on a negative connotation in this era of the team game. Ravena has been criticized for his attempt at “hero-ball” in the game against Angola, which could have been the lone saving grace of this World Cup campaign.

The PBA can be the hero, or live long enough to be the villain, if it isn’t that already. We have been waiting on the league to change its mind, and we will applaud them for lending their players — which is hardly a question for other countries.

Self-interest
As Heneral Luna stated, there will always be a conflict between one’s self and that of the team. When that happens, the team will be less than the sum of their parts. De La Salle University lost against the UE Red Warriors, despite the heralded international one-and-dones of the Green Archers.

Observers pointed that the guards of DLSU had a tendency to play “hero-ball” and take ill-advised shots. They were not able to maximize the advantage of having a taller, more athletic team. These guards are due for graduation and may want to get the best exposure looking ahead.



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