A Bizarre Way to Win
by Oliver Carlos
As a basketball fan, I observe that the golden years of the PBA was probably the mid and late 1980s. I based my opinion on the rabidity of the fans and live audience in following their favorite teams. That’s the time when the “never-say-die” spirit of the Ginebra team was newly born, when Jaworski’s ragtag line-up went up against stronger teams such as San Miguel, Purefoods (who took over the Tanduay franchise), Alaska, Great Taste, and Shell. The venues like ULTRA, and Cuneta Astrodome were be filled with loud fans and brass bands all the way to the rafters.
In my hometown Los Banos, at that same time, we also had a similar version. The town’s premier league in the late 80s was the Junction Youth Organization, or more commonly known as the JYO. The court was located just beside the train station. It had 3 divisions- Midget, Junior, and Senior. Games were played daily from 2 PM for the Midgets (kids), up to midnight for the Seniors (23 years old up). The place would really be jampacked like a PBA venue beginning with the Juniors’ games at 7 PM. That’s where I got to play in the summer of 1989.
After languishing as a wanna-be hoopster in high school, I finally had my opportunity to play with our batch’s cage legends after our graduation. I never made it as a varsity player, not even as an intramurals player in my 4 years of high school. I was a late bloomer. My time came when our batch sent a team to the JYO in 1989. We carried the name of our alma mater, UP Rural High School. I was able to crack into the line-up because several of our guards were unavailable. Our batch’s star point guard Glenn Chavez decided to coach the team full-time. His point guard back-ups Mervin Flavier, Oliver Papag, and Andrew Bernardo begged off from the team, and so I got my chance to get elevated from a being a Buko Boy and play with the batch’s big boys.
Coach Glenn would usually field me in during the 2nd quarter, to give our scoring machine Bogs Bantoc a rest. He would field me in again in the closing minutes when it’s a blow-out game. During that time, I didn’t care if I just got scrap minutes. Just wearing a jersey that’s the same as my batch’s superstars and sharing the same bench with them was already heaven for me.
But there was one game when I became hero. They say that I single-handedly won that game. It was a very bizarre victory, but it was one of the happiest days of my life. Here’s how it happened: When I was in the game during the 2nd quarter, an opposing player tripped me for no reason. I didn’t even have the ball, I was just running back on defense near midcourt when he stuck out his foot, causing me to fall to the ground. The referee approached the guy and gave him a technical foul. He also warned the player for his misbehavior. Play ensued as usual after that incident.
During the halftime shoot-around, Coach Glenn, after meeting with the officials, told us that the game was already won in our favor. We’d still play the 2nd half though, but whatever the score would be, the victory will be awarded to us. The guy who tripped me was drunk. The referee accidentally smelled the fellow when he approached him to give him a T. It’s a rule that fielding an intoxicated player would automatically mean forfeiture of the game. So in the 2nd half, Coach Glenn played me long minutes and gave me the license to shoot. Because I got tripped, the game was in the bag for us. We took the W, a win is a win, no matter how weird it may look like.
God sometimes gives us victories in unexpected ways. Several battles of the Israelites in the Old Testament were won that way. In some instances, they would win with no sweat, they would just arrive at the battlefield with all of the enemy soldiers lying dead.
One of my favorite battle stories in the Bible is the one wherein Gideon led 300 soldiers in defeating thousands of Midianites. They were outnumbered, and they also lacked weapons. God ordered them to put torches in clay jars, surround the enemy camp at night, and then smash the jars simultaneously, blow trumpets, and give out a victory chant. The enemy panicked at the sight and sounds, and they killed one another. It’s a weird battle strategy, but the Israelites obeyed God’s instructions to the letter, trusted him that it would work, and it did!
“I’ll conquer the Midianites with these three hundred!” the Lord told Gideon. “Send all the others home!” (Judges 7:7, TLB)
Take note that in the verse, it says that it was God who caused the victory, not their numbers, not their courage, not their weapons, not their skills. Same thing in life. God knows our needs, he knows the desires of our hearts, all our prayer items. He would always answer them in his perfect time in his own way. Sometimes, God’s way is not the way we are expecting to see and happen. But nonetheless, it’s still a prayer victory we would gladly accept, no matter how bizarre it may be.