Following the exit of Gilas Pilipinas in the Olympic qualifying tournament at home turf, passionate fans who witnessed the biting loss to New Zealand live expressed mixed emotions as they feel for the national team while dealing with heavy and broken ‘hearts’.
Still on a high after Gilas almost pulled off an upset against world number 5 France in their initial assignment, thousand-strong Pinoy hoop fans were all pumped up at the start especially when the national team made their way in the court.
The excitement, however, vanished bit by bit as Gilas could not find their true groove in most parts of the game while New Zealand kept on finding easy baskets to spoil the home crowd’s party.
There was a moment or two late in the fourth quarter when the venue cheerleader attempted to pump up the people inside but all the crowd could offer was a cold, almost-deafening cheer.
“Ang bagal ng laro nila, tapos ang pangit rin ng tawagan,” said a disappointed middle-aged man in the upper box section as FOX Sports gathered fans’ sentiments around the vicinity.
Some fans even headed to the exit doors minutes before the final buzzer, accepting the bitter reality that the Philippines’ chance to enter the Olympics was already shut.
While others were disappointed, some were frustrated over coaching decisions that they think could be the game-changer and fortune-turner for Gilas.
“Kung nakapasok lang sana si Abueva,” wondered a teen supporter. “Bakit kaya di ‘na ulit pinasok si Japeth,” another fan asked.
But the opportunity to play in a world-class level of competition is already a victory if you ask some also.
“At least naka-experience tayo ng ganitong klase ng laro,” said a woman in her 3O’s.
Ultimately, though, as the ‘World Most Valuable Fans’ in the recent World Cup, some did not forget to pay their respect and express gratitude to the 12 players of Gilas 4.0 as they patiently waited for them outside the venue.
Veteran Marc Pingris led Gilas in entertaining the fans, gamely posing for selfies despite the wound of the loss still hurting.
As the Philippines’ bus rolled out, they uttered “Salamat Gilas,” one way or another. – By Jason Mercene
Follow this writer on Twitter: @JasonMercenePH