Is that you Penny Cheng?

Seven games.

Seven games are all we need to annex the inter-department basketball championship.

Do I play? Yes, damn it, I’m the freaking MVP! Enemies fear my presence! Whenever I have the ball, they’ll automatically foul! My favorite shot is called “The Sydrification Process” where I get the ball in the midcourt… quickly dribble in a straight line… eluding all defenders… and then jack up a two-handed layup... in the three-point area.


(insert canned laughter)

OF-F**KING-COURSE-NOT! Do I move anything like a Michael Jordan? I’ll be happy to even do the moves of a random Division 4 baller (the guys in University of Luzon would laugh at this)! I, divulging into anything athletic is downright laughable! Although I’m not like someone I know that got injured by merely NOT doing anything, I have come to terms that I and motion will never properly co-exist!

While I love sports, I only watch sports! Like I said, I can write anything that I preview that isn’t tennis or some wimpy game! I merely blog basketball games because that’s the only contribution in endearing the sport. This obese, cigar-puffing man can either play ball on a PC or a PSP…

Which is why I am befuddled that my officemates asked me to be their coach.

Actually, I am their interim coach (I will be relegated immediately to the deputy spot when our boss steps in to do the duties). The only plays I know of are the default settings of the NBA Live plays. People laugh when the players call me coach because I am a chickenshit athlete. Try looking at my blogs and search the articles where I tried to run…

Ever seen a blob move?

Anyway, the premiere reason why I was named in the coaching staff is because I blog about basketball. You see, I am book smart. I can identify any player that played during the 1986 PBA season to this day. The first player I remember when I was young was Abet Guidaben and I hated the Ginebra bad boys era and root for either the Beermen or the Hotdogs.

But the smarts end there. Growing up, I was thin and asthmatic. Any quick pace would result to me confined in my bed. When my asthma was gone I started getting fat. I was slow… and fat.

To cut the long intro, last year I coached the team for one game. I had a scorebook in one hand and a pencil on the other. The team lost… badly. The team then was comprised of seven guards, four slashers, and a 40-year-old center. Our team is mostly comprised of writers, artists, and print producers. Our bread and butter involved Isko, our resident Mark Caguioa, to just get the ball and score at will. During defense we only have three players defending because the rest of them are either too tired or too slow. Thanks to Isko and Vlad’s helluva drinking spree in which they forgot to wake up to play, our record stood at 0-4.

However, this year was different. Two players quit the team while the other two shrugged the chance to stay close with their pregnant wives. Isko was tasked in scouting while Athan and Edwin offered suggestions on the players they wanted. This year, we could acquire players that were not in our department. What we needed were a few bigs, and able quarterback, and a hustle guy… which we luckily got.

I coached the first three games and played nice guy as my players tried their best to not punch the referees.

Here’s the thing: I am a fan of height. While we were still loaded in the guard spot, we now have able big guys that could post up and could create mismatches in the middle. I am not a fan of three-pointers, although I mark loud whenever we make one. I would rather want a three-point play than a three-point basket. Also I rely on the fact that all players playing are amateurs, which basically means I would rather risk outside shots so that our defense could concentrate in rebounding. I employ either a zone or a box one defense (four guys playing zone while the other is playing man-to-man on their star player). While our inside play is ferocious, it is our defense that scores the steal/rebound, then long pass, to finish with a fast break.

I always that the most important quarters for me are the second and third quarters because in this 20-minute interval (amateur time), the leading players would dictate the tempo coming to the fourth. Since the tourney requires the team to play its players for a minimum of two minutes, I use the first quarter to pace my best five (just like Yeng Guiao, I do not have a permanent starting five) so that they’ll wreak havoc when the other team is either resting their best five or when their top guys have drained a bit of their energy. I have seven top guys and I give playing time according to who’s hot and who’s not.

We always play on Saturdays. I am guessing the opponents either drank a whole lot of beer or stuffed a whole lot of meat to further strengthen their humongous bellies… just like my players.

As of June 25, we are 3-0. The highest winning margin we had was at 16 points.

Our lowest? Well it happened in our third game where I tried to mix the lineup and inserted some of the best players in the team to the starting lineup. We owned the foes in the first quarter and as I was bringing in the bench in the second, ended up by 14 points at halftime. In the third quarter, lead ballooned as much as 20. And then overconfidence kicked in where we laughed and kid on the bench, in the fourth quarter the lead started to dwindle.

In the last two minutes, our lead melted to one! The laughter turned to anger and you know the saying that “players win games and coaches lose it”? DAMN IT I WAS FEELING IT!

Luckily, we exemplified grace under pressure and we finished the game with a six point margin.

Now you might ask? Why do we need seven games? There are twenty teams divided into four groups. For example… we are Group C. We need to win at least three games in order to advance. Now only two of the five teams in the bracket will advance. The top of Group C will face the second placer in the Group D. The winner will face one of the four teams that advanced to the semifinals where the winners will face the other in a winner-take-all event.

After a winless last year, we have dibs on a semifinal seat. We want that. We hope that. And when it is all said and done, we hope to book the title.

Check that… WE WANT THE TITLE!

(by the way, yes magulo ang camera work kasi si Cindy kumukuha!)

Game ON!


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