Words are interesting. I like words and I like studying how to use words. I like imagining myself in a situation where I have to say something like I’m in one of those RPG games and choosing a certain phrase might change the course of your player.
It has been 4 days of basketball with 2 games per day. My job as a courtside reporter/interviewer was to interview the coaches of both teams before the game and also to interview the coach and a player of the winning team after. This grants to a total of 32 times where I have to shove a microphone in a coach or a players face and ask him questions he may or may not be completely willing to answer.
It had seemed like an easy job, but (as with most things as life that looks easy as a spectator) it wasn’t. It wasn’t hard coming up with questions on the first day or two, but after the a while, you had a sense that the coaches were feeling something along the lines of “Are we doing this again?”. You can only ask a coach so many times how he has prepared for this game or what is his gameplan today before eventually snaps, goes all Gregg Popovich, and says “well, I plan to score more points that the other team”. Because they were playing almost everyday, I had prepared myself for one of the coaches to answer “well, I’ll just tell you what I told you yesterday.”
And that’s why it was so crucial to figure out what words to string up to a question before interviewing each coach.
The Philippines interviews were a bit easier than others because Coach Nash Racela would send Assistant Coach Josh Reyes to handle the pregame, while Coach Nash himself would do post games.
It was getting harder and harder to interview the Indonesian team, if only because you could only ask Coach Augustino Rinaldo so many times what he could do to not lose again.
In the first game of the day against Indonesia, I was expecting the Philippines to blow the game out and to blow it out quickly, to be completely honest. They had raised somewhat concerns about their defense in the past two games and I thought that a chance to stamp away those concerns in a game against Indonesia might be in line. I had even prepared myself and went to the internet and social media for fun tidbits to say in the case that the lead grew up and I would need some filler information (like Jio Jalalon’s nickname “The Bus Driver” and it’s love/hate relationship with the fans).
But things didn’t really go as expected. The Philippines started off sloppy, but on defense and offense. While they did have the lead 25-16 after one quarter, the score had been tied at one point at 16-16.
The Philippines weren’t really ever in danger of an upset. It was clear that Coach Nash was flipping players in and out to let everyone get a chance to get a feel of them game. Still, you can’t allow that to used as a reference to why they had allowed the most points scored by Indonesia.
Coach Josh had mentioned before the game about how this was a group of young players and keeping them from being complacent was always going to be a rough task. I didn’t think they were being complacent (which might be a strong word) but I still think that the Gilas Cadets had a different picture of the Indonesia team in their heads.
The Philippines would break away for good (despite a pretty well contested 19-17 third quarter) and that would end Indonesia’s last game in the SEABA Stankovic Cup 2016 with an 83-52 point loss.
At one late point during that game, I had decided to check in on the Youtube livestream comments. Turns out that it would also be one of those moments which kind of makes you laugh for a short bit, but you find yourself in a dark, pathetic, and miserable corner later.
Racist slurs were thrown left and right along with random mentioning of genitalia here and there. Any mention of anything seemed to be able to spark a riot. It was funny for a couple of seconds before you realized that these were legit words chosen by a fellow human being from various parts of the world. It was just kind of sad that with all the communication power we have, which makes us the most complex living organisms on this planet, and all some people have to show for it are the various ways they can describe a penis. Kudos to you humanity.
It took a brief moment for me to return to the real world where people didn’t greet other people by telling them how they had just raped your mother. I shut down Youtube and looked forward to watching a tough battle between Singapore and Thailand. It was supposed to be a duel down low between Delvin Goh and Teerawat Chantachon for bragging rights to the brightest young ASEAN center outside the Philippines.
Things just went in a completely opposite direction. It took Singapore 3 quarters to reach 14 points. Think about that for a second. In 30 minutes of regulation time, Thailand had some how gave up only 14 points to Singapore. And it wasn’t because of their lack of trying. For all of the praise the Thailand Team gets for their team defense, Singapore was just as unlucky as well. None of their shots were dropping, despite how well they were set up. They ended up shooting 18% from the floor and made only 11 FGs the entire game.
As the lead kept growing and growing, it kept getting harder and harder to commentate the game, which so happened to be my job. People get to focus on commentators during close games and how they call out defining moments in those close games. While that is certainly important, I had just realized that calling a blowout was almost equally hard. There little to no momentum going on as a whole. You couldn’t commentate on the winning team so much without coming off as too biased, but the losing team wasn’t doing enough to commentate about.
I had looked forward to comment on Delvin Goh working inside against Thailand, but Thailand shut down pass routes that could come his way near the post. Whenever Goh was able to get a pass, Thailand swarmed him with a double team while closing down the remaining options.
Goh ended the game with 1 point, went 0-2 from the field, committed 6 turnovers. Despite averaging in the double digits from the past two games, he had barely even managed to get his shot off against Thailand. Just like how Thailand’s defense had frustrated Wong Yi Hou, it had limited Goh.
And once again, it was another balanced offensive production from Thailand. The 12 Thai players scoring outputs read “12, 11, 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 5, 4, 3 0” which was so close to being so awesome. Nakorn Jaisanook led the entire team with 4 three-pointers, but I think young big man, Teerawat Chantachon, with his 11 points and 10 rebounds shined the brightest.
As I had mentioned before in a previous blog entry, Coach Tim Lewis set his target out to be the best defensive team in the tournament.
Three games gone by, and Thailand have held their opponents to only 46.0 points per game. Malaysia had their lowest scoring output on Thailand at 66 and their leading scorer, Wong Yi Hou, managed to score only 3 points. Indonesia scored 44 points against Thailand, which was only 4 points more than the 40 they scored on Singapore. Now they add holding Singapore to 28 points and shutting Delvin Goh down to only 1 points on their list.
There might still be plenty of questions left to be answered in the Philippines-Thailand game coming up, but I think it’s safe to say that Coach Tim and the team has done their part in showing us that they are the best defensive team in the tournament.
For some people like random Youtube accounts, words might weight as much as a stinky fart which you should just hold your breath and run away from. But for some people like Coach Tim Lewis, he takes what he says seriously and sticks by it.
PS. In a less dramatic and more inspiring note, these wins by Thailand and the Philippines have qualified them for the Finals of the SEABA Stankovic Cup 2016 and also the FIBA Asia Challenge which will be held in Tehran, Iran during September 9-18, 2016.