The likes of Ed Ducut, Joselle Angeles, Cris Bolado and lately, Jerwin Gaco, to name a few, have etched their names in Philippine basketball history as the ultimate shock troopers of the PBA.
Despite playing limited minutes in almost their entire basketball careers, they will be remembered as heroes of PBA fans who chose to stay up to the last minute of every game already decided long before the final buzzer would sound.
Ducut et al would dunk or fire three-pointers even if their teams or the opposing squads are ahead by 20, 30 points under a minute to play, to the delight of hoops fans, for or against these bench warmers’ teams.
And these men, as well as their, should we say solid fan base, should thank basketball gods who never thought about adopting baseball’s mercy rule where a game is automatically stopped once a team establishes an overwhelming lead.
Or the American brand of basketball where an unwritten rule states that it is wrong for any player to attempt to score a basket or a fancy shot a few seconds before the end of a one-sided match.
Such is the culture of Philippine basketball, something that is not similar to the NBA where most if not all teams consider it an insult whenever a player continues to strut his wares in the dying minutes of a one-sided game.
“Even in barangay tournaments, once a benchwarmer is sent in, onlookers get to enjoy and cheer for that player while playing inside the court,” said NLEX coach YengGuiao. “It’s probably because most of us, we picture ourselves in that player’s situation. We love playing basketball but not all of us can get that kind of opportunity no matter how limited that opportunity is.”
Filipino fans just can’t get enough of a game they tend to marvel at spectacular dunks or consecutive three-point shots by players, be it their favorite team’s bench warmers or established stars, during so-called garbage time.
Recently, Ginebra coach Tim Cone got into an argument with San Miguel Beer point guard Chris Ross during their recent Philippine Cup title series after the Fil-am playmaker converted a three-pointer in the waning seconds of the Beermen’s 99-88 Game 3 victory.
During the 2008 Philippine Cup, Cone also had a heated exchange with then Sta. Lucia Realty coach Boyet Fernandez after Realtor Kelly Williams scored on a break-away dunk despite their team enjoying an insurmountable lead in the dying minutes of their game.
Former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin, then a consultant of Talk ‘N Text, confronted San Miguel’s Arwind Santos for his garbage time dunk in their 2014 Philippine Cup semifinal faceoff.
“It should not be an issue because all you have to do is walk away and think about your next game. It’s our basketball culture and I don’t think it’s in our players’ character to insult opposing teams,” said Guiao.
GlobalPort head coach Franz Pumaren, himself a 14-year PBA veteran who played for San Miguel and Mobiline Cellulars from 1986 to 1998, sees nothing wrong in players trying to get points as much as they can in a one-sided ballgame.
“What’s really insulting is if one tries to taunt players from the losing team or if a winning team calls a timeout despite being way ahead,” said Pumaren.
Simply put, it’s not difficult to understand that in Philippine basketball, Filipino players play not just to win games but also to earn the adulation of basketball fans no matter what the game situation is or how limited their minutes are inside the playing court. (DENNIS G. PRINCIPE)