The Fight We’ve Always Wanted Wasn’t The Fight We Expected

I watched the fight multitasking. I was clutching a pillow, scrolling through Twitter, and hugging my 4-year-old son who got surprised every time the men in the room shouted when Manny landed a punch. Every round was stressful and nerve-wracking. Before the fight, we prayed for Manny Pacquiao to win. We rallied for him in social media. As a nation, we were so pumped up to watch him defeat Floyd Mayweather. But when the fight started, we all knew that it would go down to the wire. And it did!

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

The Fight of the Century reached 12 rounds and when it ended I felt blah. See, I can’t even describe it properly. Both fighters fought well but it fell so short that underwhelming is even an understatement in my opinion. This match was so hyped that it raised the expectations so high that Manny and Floyd couldn’t reach it. Here’s why:

We wanted blood and bruises, we got scrape-free faces

Everybody expected a dog fight. Fans of both parties wanted their opponents to be photographed with fifty shades of black and blue. But no, both fighters looked like they just came from a sparring practice. There were no stitches or blood. I’m not a boxing expert but based on what I saw, the flow and dynamics of the fight didn’t dictate such an outcome. One was calculating and the other was trying to catch a slippery opponent. If you have one party dodging a lot, you simply can’t expect a slug fest. And for most of us, it was a major letdown.

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Eric Jamison/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted more punches, we got more hugs

And a million memes to go along with that. As Pacquiao fans, we wanted him to be more aggressive. We wanted Mayweather to stop hugging our hero. But from Manny’s point of view, he punched enough. He was also cautious because he didn’t want to get knocked out. Mayweather is a strategist and for Manny to go all out and attack him would be careless and stupid. So if he said he did his best then let’s take his word for it. I believe Manny knew what he was doing. He is an experienced fighter and a champ. As for the hugs? I can only say the same thing. Money knew what he was doing, it was part of his strategy, and yes, it made him look like Olaf but at the end of the day, he won within the rules of the game.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; ; Photo from Mashable.com

We wanted Manny to win, we got Money declared as champ

I don’t know with you but when the final bell rang, I only had one thing in mind—Money won, Manny lost. It was a bitter pill to swallow. Sure Floyd danced the night away but he threw and landed more punches. And sometimes that’s all you need to see. Was he the better fighter? That’s for the real experts to decide. From what I saw, he looked scared at some point. His father was even nervous to the point of asking his son, “What’s wrong with you?” But that didn’t stop him from sticking to the plan. Manny did his best to get in but I think he was also trying his best to avoid a counterpunch that will knock the lights out of him. I think he made the most of the openings he saw. Freddie Roach also told him, “Don’t walk right into it.” And he was wise enough not to.

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; Posted in Mashable.com

Image: Al Bello/Getty Images; ; Photo from Mashable.com

For both fighters it was a balancing act all the way. No one went all in, not in the fans’ standards anyway. It was a battle of who outsmarts who. I’m a Manny Pacquiao fan but I wouldn’t even say that it was a close fight. From a literal stand point, Money was too far most of the time. Too far to be reached, too many hugs, too many elbows, too many dirty plays. But despite all that, I also saw Money landed more punches than Manny. And I’m not a boxing expert; I’m a stay-at-home, full-time wife and mom. I have 20/20 vision and I’m not delusional. It sucks to even say this but Money won because he did what he had to. Not in the way I like it but he found a way to win within the rules and in any game that’s all that matters.

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: John Locher/Associated Press; Photo from Mashable.com

Manny looked more careful to me but I’d like to think that he also stuck to his game plan. He didn’t go there careless and brash. He, too, was calculating albeit more aggressive. Maybe he should’ve done more but maybe doing more would’ve gotten him KO’d, too. So I’m with Manny when he said he really did his best but it wasn’t good enough.

The fight we’ve always wanted is over. It didn’t meet our expectations but at least we finally saw it. It reached 12 rounds with both fighters sizing each other up to the very end. It was a good fight but not a great one. It was like a story without a climax but still worth telling. From the moment the bell rang, we had a calculated boxing match. And maybe that’s really all there is when you’re fighting an opponent who wins with that strategy. Hats off to Floyd for remaining undefeated and winning the way he best knew how.

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

Image: Harry How/Getty Images; Photo from Mashable.com

And for Manny, you’re still our champion, the pride of the Philippines, the hero that brings our nation together in a way that nobody else can. We’re proud of you. My son even wants to be like you. We’re still not on the same page in terms of a boxing career, though. Haha! But on the character side, yes. 🙂 I know that when you watch the fight again you’ll see that Money won. It may be hard to see that immediately after the fight but I know you’ll come to terms with that. But I am happy that during your post fight prayer service you acknowledged that God’s ways are higher than ours and you have peace of mind. 🙂

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

Image: Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times; Photo from La Times

This loss is nothing to be ashamed of, you fought a good fight, you made Mayweather think twice, and you escaped some nasty blows. You’ve proven to all of us time and time again how great of a fighter you are. So stand tall, champ! God has already given you the platform to show the world that He can make a world-class fighter out of nothing. And you have shown that last night. A third-world fighter in a first-world country battling a first-world boxer. We couldn’t ask for more. Thank you for fighting for our country and for God’s glory. Thank you for making us proud again. 🙂

Ikaw pa rin ang nag-iisang Pambansang Kamao ng Pilipinas. Mabuhay ka!    

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The HEAT Experience

If victory is so sweet for a fan half across the globe, how much more for the team who worked so hard to earn that championship ring? I bet it was delish.

I’m no basketball expert. I tend to notice different things in the game if you read my previous blog. I’m an outsider in the world of the NBA perennially confused about who’s who. I don’t know the difference between charging and offensive foul. One thing I know for sure, though. I love this game! I revel every time the Miami Heat wins. I’m still in good spirits when we lose because either the game was close or the opposing team was just great. I enjoy that kind of intense competition.

 

You see, my husband is a die-hard LeBron James fan. He rooted for him when he was still with Cleaveland and remained loyal when he chose to be with Miami. He was the same with Jordan, rooting for him whichever team or sport he played. I know that he’s been praying for 9 years for LeBron to win a championship. He looks at things objectively. He knows what a great athlete he is and he understands why he had to make “the decision” although he would’ve wanted that LeBron did it differently. I actually agree with him on that.

I don’t really get why people hate LeBron so much. In fact, it’s only in basketball that I saw being a “hater” as being part of a cool posse. I think it’s the most pathetic posse to be a part of. It’s like fans in general are afraid to recognize his greatness because they’ll be dubbed as sissies. It’s a “guy thing” to be part of the “hating elite.” Well, I think it’s a “gay” thing (no offense to my gay friends whom I love), a glorified male version of gossip girl filled with backbiting. Being a “hater” became a bandwagon that everyone jumped into without much thought.

For us, we painfully watched the 2011 season go by without a championship. What a dark and dreary experience it was to watch LeBron hesitate to take those shots during the finals against the Dallas Mavericks after watching him carry the Heat in spectacular playoffs series against the Chicago Bulls and the Boston Celtics. It was like watching a clone play the game for him, lost beyond recognition. Then I realized that it’s exactly what happened. He got lost. Lost his identity, his love for the game, and his drive altogether.

When the Miami Heat franchise decided to do that “celebration” I knew they were headed downhill. I remember saying, “Oh no, pride goes before destruction.” When LeBron said the infamous “not one, not two…” statement, it sealed the deal. At the back of my mind I recited a verse I kept close to my heart, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

 

God created a cosmic humble pie and gave each member of the Heat team a mouthful. Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh had extra toppings of injuries. LeBron got half of that holy humble pie complete with a crunchy criticism crust filled with insult flavor. He needed that. The entire team needed that. I felt bad for my husband when they lost but I knew that God’s timing was perfect and losing was part of God’s impeccable time.

A year later and I saw something I never saw before. A change in character. We were excited to have another shot at the ring. I was more excited to see how LeBron would redeem himself. It started with a statement coming from him on how he contemplated, sought help from other people, and went back to the basics–from playing to silence his critics to simply playing because he loves the game.

His demeanor on and off the court changed, too. He was more calm and focused. He stopped tweeting. He tuned out the media. He read before games instead of playing loud hiphop music. He didn’t celebrate and made gestures after making awesome shots. During the final minutes of Game 5, Mario Chalmers was urging the fans to celebrate. LeBron called his attention, shook his head, and told him “not yet.” Very different from last year when he and Wade celebrated prematurely during Game 2 with overacting chest bumps. This time, he just went about his game, leading the Heat one possession at a time. No celebration until they deserved to do so.

God gave grace to the humble, indeed. LeBron James finally won his first championship ring along with regular season and finals MVP awards. He told the media that the best thing that happened to him last year was “losing the finals.” He said he was humbled and he needed that. He acknowledged his mistakes and learned from it.

When I prayed for the Heat to win, I prayed to God to answer it for His glory. I saw that He was glorified because He showed the world that He works in a different scheme. This world applauds the proud and mighty, God doesn’t. That’s why the Heat lost last year. God uplifts the humble. In His economy, the first is last and the last is first. I saw that first hand in the story of the Heat. Their journey to victory was filled with thorns and pain. Was it worth it? They would probably say very much. You can see it in the smile in their faces.

The long bitter road paved the way to forgiveness, humility, and change. Heat President Pat Riley said after the championship revelry, “forgive us for the decision, forgive us for the celebration, forgive us for saying not one, not two.”

I thank God for allowing me to see this team grow. It made the victory more significant because it was won not out of vengeance but out of a humbled team. Last year LeBron tweeted, “The Greater Man upstairs know when it’s my time. Right now isn’t the time.” This year, let me tell you this, LeBron: The Greater Man upstairs knew it was your time to be lifted because you humbled yourself. 

The Heat experience for me is more than just a fan’s journey to winning a championship. It’s an opportunity to witness the character transformation of the player we root for. It’s an opportunity to see God’s principles at work even in the world of sports. It’s an opportunity to watch my team change and mature on and off the court. And oh, what a sweet experience that was. 🙂

 

The Alpha Male World of the NBA

They say that NBA is where amazing happens. The recently capped All-Star game, LINsanity mania, lockout controversy, and the unforgettable “taking my talents to South Beach” announcement are just some of the crazy amazing events that can only happen in the NBA.  Oh dear, it’s so amazing I can’t believe I’m even writing about this! Haha!

My last involvement with NBA was back in the days of Michael Jordan. I was a Chicago Bulls fan but my ultimate crush was John Stockton of the Utah Jazz. Haha! There goes my so out of place point of view! I think if I were an ESPN sports commentator I would look past bad shooting and say, “But he’s cute, you know.” Haha! Anyway, when my husband and I became a couple back in 2009 I was reintroduced to this alpha male world again. For the life of me I didn’t even know who LeBron James was until hubby told me everything about him! I wasn’t even able to track the rise of Kobe Bryant. Haha! Oh well, I realized that when you get married you have the rest of your life learning about what your husband’s passions are—fortunately for me, one of them includes the fab fun world of basketball. That doesn’t sound right, does it? Oh well, you’re reading this blog from a woman’s point of view so deal with it. 🙂

Here are some of the things I’m enjoying about the NBA in my two-year immersion so far:

1. The thrill of the game. Watching the playoffs and championships last year was intense. I really look forward to that this year! We’re a Miami Heat family—actually, we’re the what-daddy’s-team-is family. So if Miami doesn’t make it, we just have to ask daddy who his next bet is and we’ll root for that team. I love watching the game highlights and those replays from different angles. Seeing great players make insane plays is just amazing. 🙂

2.  The jerseys. I’m a woman and fashion is part and parcel of my well being. I love admiring the teams’ jerseys and criticizing the flawed ones. There’s this website that shows the different jerseys of each team throughout the years (I can’t remember the name). My hubby showed it to me and asked me to choose the ones l liked. After clicking on the jersey, the site would show which jersey had the most number of votes. It was fun! The Lakers and Bulls’ jerseys are still the classic ones for me. I like some of the retro ones, too! Right now, I must say I’m digging the new Miami Heat all-black jersey. That one’s FIERCE. 🙂

3. The point guards. Back when I was still into UAAP (I’m part of the 4-peat UST Tigers generation) and PBA (we’re a San Miguel Team family because my Pops worked there), the players I admired were usually the point guards. I admire their speed and agility. They make good assists and surprisingly great plays! I remember rooting for Bal David of the UST Tigers and Hector Calma of San Miguel Beer. Oh and by the way, they’re my crushes, too (like John Stockton)! Haha! To date, Jeremy Lin is one of the point guards I truly admire and it’s not merely skin deep—it’s because his character stands out in this industry. His LINderella story is really inspiring and I look forward to seeing him excel in his basketball career. My other point guard faves are Derrick Rose, Mario Chalmers, and Rajon Rondo (with crush factor involved). 🙂

4. The names. Oh boy, I am just lovin’ the names of NBA players this season! I’m sure most of them have been in the league for a while now but I only paid attention to their names recently. There’s the cheesy Kevin Love; the perfect Ms. Universe winner Metta World Peace; the one who for some reason reminds me of song “The Rico Mambo” Ricky Rubio; the mafia-like family relations of DeMarcus Cousins; the delicious Von Wafer; the ever so happy Mickell Gladness; and the tongue-twisting, spell-check confusing Amare Stoudemire (I never really got where the emphasis on Amare was nor the pronunciation of his surname—so I always end up just calling him A-ma-rey). There’s a whole lot more for sure but these guys are top of mind. 🙂

So there goes my two cents worth of the alpha male world of NBA. I know this is not what fan boys would normally notice but I guess this is what girls could probably relate to. Watching the game is one of the best bonding moments my hubby and I have. Our baby enjoys watching it, too! Maybe next time I’ll be more sports-article worthy or ESPN-esque when I blog about the NBA—with stats and all that. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll find more quirky and interesting things about the game and let my non-NBA lingo do the talking. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll do just that. 🙂