The truth is in the eyes of the beholder, and that for me is the truth, same as what is right depends on who is talking, right?
Why am I talking of the truth and what is right? No, I have not turned into a priest who will now try to convert people. This piece will still be on sports and it is about the recent free-for-all that took place in the Fiba-Asia qualifying game between Gilas Pilipinas and Australia, with the winner taking solo lead in their grouping.
But instead of watching basketball at its highest level, the 22,000 fans who trooped to the Philippine Arena in Bulacan got treated to a two-in-one spectacle of basketball and boxing thrown in as players from both sides ended up showing their martial arts skills and in the end, nine players from the Philippine side got thrown out while four players from the other side got disqualified .
And with only 3 players left for the local side, it was a matter of them fouling out one after the other to end the farce. At that time, the Aussies were leading Gilas by a wide margin already, and what is being waited for now is how Fiba will decide on the matter, meaning will the players involved get suspended in the teams’ next games too, will the Philippines and Australia get suspended, and will the Philippines’ right to co-host the next FIBA world championship be rescinded.
Now let us get back to the matter of truth and right.
Right after the game, there was third phase of a match, this time between netizens, half condemning the Gilas team and some of its officials for getting involved in the fight, the other half defending the action of the team, citing their own reasons for siding with either side.
And this is where the truth comes in, as far as the players and officials involved were concerned. What they did was justifiable because of the actuations of the Aussies that started actually even the day before when the latter, on their own, took out marketing-related stickers on the court, saying the stickers made the court sticky. And so, the stage was set for a heated game the following day.
It is true that Aussies play a physical game regardless of which team they play, it is also true that trash talking is a given inside the court, this being the psychological intimidation of the opponents, but if you ask Gilas players, it went beyond for it was also true that Australia was easily on the road to beating us.
And it is true that for a losing team, it is more galling to be trash-talked when the game’s outcome is already just a matter of time, more so when the aggrieved team is the host team and this is happening right before the eyes of their fans. It is also true that when you see a teammate getting hit the way Roger Pogoy got hit by Kickert, chances are, you will retaliate for your teammate.
Which is what happened, that became the trigger but even before that, the stage was already being set, more so that the referees failed to control the game early on, for me, this is one truth that both sides can agree on.
Chot Reyes, Gilas coach, said people need to be involved with the team to understand why it happened though in the end, most of those involved offered their apologies to the public through the social media, admitting their fault but justifying it, for them, that is their truth.
For the opposing side that was criticizing the team for their action on the court, their version of the truth is that whatever the provocation, the players should not have resorted to fighting in full view of the country, even beyond, us being the host country at that. And they too have their point.
In short, the truth will depend on whose side you are and what kind of mind set you have, and as I said, it becomes the same thing for what is right and what is wrong. For me, one true thing that very few people will oppose is that in the end, emotions got the better of the players and believe me, when feelings rule, logic takes its leave.
Is that a justification ?
No, it is an explanation for why it happened without necessarily agreeing or disagreeing with what happened but rather trying to understand why it happened.
Personally, I admire the local players for taking a stand against their opponents, that is me as a Filipino basketball fan talking, but my being a corporate management-trained person, I will end up penalizing the players for what they did, as they themselves admitted to being wrong .
Now do I make sense?
I hope so.