by Oliver Carlos
In 1998, the most used word was “centennial”. That was the year when our nation celebrated our 100th year of independence. The date was based on the proclamation of independence on June 12, 1898 in Kawit, Cavite. The Spanish forces in the Philippines were almost wiped out by our troops, so our nation’s leaders declared that we were free on that day.
One hundred years later, almost everything was named centennial. We had the Centennial President, a Centennial Cup in the PBA, and the Centennial Basketball Team sent to compete in the Asian Games. Every varsity team in that year was also called centennial.
I was teaching at the Christian School International (CSI) at that time and I was also appointed as coach of the girls’ high school basketball team, and you bet, our team was called the CSI Centennial Team. We were back-to-back champions in Los Banos and Bay, Laguna. We had a winning streak that ran for two-seasons, until the league folded up in 2000, and was never revived. So technically, we were the perpetual defending champions.
Women’s Basketball wasn’t very much developed yet in those days, especially at the high school level. I just rode on that. I built a team designed to capitalize on that weak state of the sport. Most girls’ teams at that time would do the “langaw defense,” every player would swarm over whoever has the ball. On offense, a typical girls’ team would give the ball to just one player who’s the best dribbler on the floor. I had antidote for that — division of labor.
I was blessed to have 3 players who were excellent ballhandlers — Eva Antonio, Ana Mae Perez, and rookie Emily Suministrado. I fielded in any 2 of them at a time. We were prepared for the langaw defense. If any of my ballhandlers would get swarmed by the opponent, she would quickly pass the ball to the other ballhandler who would then be free to drive to the hoop in the open court. As simple as that, we would put up points on the board.
What about the other players? They also had important roles that they unselfishly embraced. I put in 2 bigs at a time. Their only role was to set a double screen for a catch-and-shoot player on slow break situations. The bigs didn’t care if they wouldn’t score, as long as they faithfully did their screening task.
While the langaw defense was on my 2 ballhandlers, the 3 other teammates would sneakily set up for an open shot. A pass would be received by the catch-and-shoot player who would take an uncontested jumper behind a double screen of 2 big girls. This is our one and only set play. During trainings, we mastered this to to perfection. We did countless repetitions until the play becomes part of their instincts. They did this happily, without complaining.
On defense, we didn’t employ the langaw method. We stick to a very disciplined 1–3–1 zone defense. Each of my players had a designated area on the floor to guard, and so there’s no confusion that would lead to a defensive breakdown. Eva, with her long arms, would often steal the ball away before the opposing team could set up their plays. She’s the first “one” in the 1–3–1 defensive formation. We were superb not only on offense but also on defense. The result: we won all our games in the two years we were together.
In 1 Corinthians 12:12–31, the apostle Paul also emphasized division of labor in the church as key in its success. Each member must know his or her role and embrace it. One should know his gift, and use it to bless others, and the organization as a whole. One should also be concerned about the welfare of the other parts and appreciate one another. We read in verses 21–27 (NIV):
“As it is, there are many parts, but one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!”…. But God has put the body together, ……its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Today, let us ask God what he wants us to do in order to bless others and build up Christ’s body of believers.