Now more than ever, Gilas needs the country's support

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Gilas Pilipinas has lost all its four games in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. The losses kept getting more and more painful but we’ve had our moments.

Jeff Chan in the game versus Croatia, June Mar Fajardo against Greece, Gabe Norwood and Jimmy Alapag versus Argentina. We saw positives in there and we kept believing because we knew the most important games were still ahead of us.

Against Puerto Rico, the glorious pain turned into just pain. The beautiful sadness turned into just plain sadness.

For the first three games, there were those of us passed blame. We’re some of the most passionate basketball fans in this planet so it’s understandable. Even if the pointing of fingers was present after the first three losses, most of it was still kind-hearted.

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The dam broke after the loss to Puerto Rico. Some of the team’s biggest supporters turned into its biggest critics.

Sabi nga nila, quota na tayo sa moral victories. Champion na tayo dun. Kailangan natin nung totoong victory. Yung ililista nila.

We didn’t get it against Puerto Rico. This wasn’t a win, moral or otherwise. This was just a loss. A painful, heart-wrenching loss.

There were some of us who gave into the temptation. We pointed fingers. My Twitter timeline looked more like the Iron Throne with all the barbs sticking out of it.

I won’t lie. I also thought Gilas could have done things differently. I thought giving up a foul with 34 seconds left in a one-possession game didn’t make sense. I thought Andray Blatche veered away from his usual game in the closing minutes.

Ganyan naman tayo e. Analysts tayong lahat.

Our passion breeds knowledge and our knowledge breeds opinions.

We all have the right give our two cents on what they should or shouldn’t have done but none of us should attack the people representing us in Spain.

They left their families to represent us. They dedicated months, some even years of their lives to make sure that, for a few hours, we could all forget about our troubles and be hopeful for them and for us as a people.

With nothing but a few words of encouragement from our government, they spent millions and millions of pesos in private money to bring us back into the basketball limelight.

They won the silver in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship. They gave us the performance against South Korea that we will never forget.

They did it without asking for anything else for our support and our prayers.

Right now there are wives longing for their husbands, children missing their fathers, and parents waiting for the return of their children from Spain.

Every shot we take against any member of Gilas Pilipinas is like spitting on their sacrifice.

It’s so easy to point out what’s wrong while we’re sitting on our comfortable chairs, eating good food, and watching with our loved ones.

It’s so easy to be mad and point fingers knowing that we could simply block out this loss from our minds as we go back to our regular routine tomorrow.

It’s easy to hate when you’re not the one feeling homesick.

It’s easy to blame when you’re not the one who missed the first months of your child’s life because you needed to be away.

It’s so easy to pass judgment when you’re not the one with the swollen ankle or the bum knee or the tender back or the sore elbow.

It’s easy to say coach Chot Reyes should have played this guy over this guy. It’s easy to say Jayson Castro should have made this play over this play.

Hindsight makes us all geniuses. Hindsight makes us the best basketball analysts in the world.

But if we all just take a moment and evaluate what we’re feeling right now, it should give things some perspective.

We’re actually mad and disappointed that we lost to Puerto Rico. A few months ago, we would have taken this loss with a smile on our faces, at least hindi naman tayo tinambakan. We’re actually pissed off that JJ Barea, an NBA champion guard, went off against Gilas because we had enough belief that our guys were good enough to stop him.

I’m not asking you to be happy with the loss. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t feel bad right now. Losing sucks. Being eliminated sucks. Not having the thrill of competing for something more than just pride against Senegal tomorrow sucks.

All I’m trying to say is that because of Gilas, we’ve all leveled up. We’re done with seeing these NBA guys as basketball demi-gods whom we could only play or practice with if we pay them enough money. We’ve stopped seeing Croatia and Greece and Argentina and Puerto Rico as teams above us. We now know that we’re capable of competing with them at any given game.

If you’re still angry, if you still want someone to blame. Consider this.

Sergio García-Ronrás (@s9rgio on Twitter) is a Spanish guy who just happened to watch Gilas play in a series of exhibition games in Guadalajara. Because of their performance and with some of prodding from Filipinos on Twitter, he became a fan of Gilas.

He traveled for five hours and almost 600 kilometers by car from Guadalajara to Seville. He had, in his words, "no ticket, no hotel. Just faith in #GilasPilipinas to win."

He wasn’t able to watch Gilas versus Puerto Rico in the arena. All he did was hear our crowd’s cheers when Gilas scored. He put in all of that effort for Gilas when he could have simply done the same for his own Spanish team. He could be watching Pau and Marc Gasol beat up their opponents silly but he’s in Seville to support Gilas in a loss.

García-Ronrás put in the effort none of us did for players who were strangers to him. Yet, we’re the ones who felt empowered to take shots at the very people fighting to represent our country.

A foreigner fell in love with our team and in a matter of days he was smitten. He never felt the joy of watching them win over South Korea. He never celebrated when they won countless games here and abroad. But there he was, sad about the Gilas loss to Puerto Rico, but not pointing fingers even after a five-hour drive for nothing else but a street view of the basketball arena in Seville.

His effort for a team he barely knows should be a reminder that feeling sad does not give us the right to make others feel worse with our words.

We still have one game tomorrow. We still have a shot at getting a win after being away from the world stage for so long.

I can’t lie. Seeing Rain or Shine fans cheering for Ping, Alaska fans cheering for LA again, SMB fans celebrating a Jimmy basket, and SMC fans applauding Gabe’s efforts has been a lot of fun.

Having the whole Philippines to cheer with has been fun.

Cheering with all of you for Gilas has been an experience I’ll never forget even if all we shared were a few tweets and a Facebook comments.

I hope we can do that one last time tomorrow.  It will take a long while before we could do this again so I hope we could get over ourselves, take control of our emotions, and give this Gilas Pilipinas our unwavering support.

One last time for Jimmy. One last time for Gary. One last time for Marc. One last time for all those who would be too old by the time the next FIBA Basketball World Cup comes around.

All out. One last time.