Nirvana in my mind

By Henry Liao February 12,2020
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Nirvana in my mind

By Henry Liao February 12,2020
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ALLOW me to bring you to memory lane while awaiting the resumption of the high school basketball leagues I have been covering since October.

Yesterday when I was young was one of the happiest moments in my life.

Care-free my life was as a youngster (up until I came out of high school in 1972).

Life was a breeze, not because I was a spoiled brat, but rather because my parents from the middle class got me all the things I need to have – emphasis on “need” – and not what I wanted.

The life I lived then was simple but enjoyable for all I did was study well in school and play basketball after class hours or during the weekend (Saturday mornings or Sunday afternoons) at the Xavier School covered courts.

At age eight, I was already into “heavy” reading – not only from the school materials but also from the daily newspapers (the old Manila Times and the Evening News were my favorites) and sports-related books and magazines of the local and foreign varieties.

No small wonder my vision was somehow affected and I started to wear eyeglasses at that tender age, too.

I also took up basketball as early as age eight, dreaming of becoming a school, if not, a national athlete someday. I aspired to be one even if I was reed-thin, height-challenged and maybe unorthodox as a southpaw.

Never mind that American shoe companies came up with such slogans as “Just Do It” and “Impossible is Nothing” much later in the seventies, eighties or nineties.

The thing is I was already doing “it” and dreaming the “impossible” back in the early 1960s.

There’s one basketball anecdote from my early basketball-playing days that this Hoopster could hardly forget. And maybe it’s worth sharing to aspiring basketball athletes from this young generation as well.

Once in 1971 at age 16, I was playing ball (till I got tired) by my lonesome at the Xavier School high-school gym. I usually took 200 shots from all angles every opportunity to practice that I had.

At the time, I had already lowered my expectations. I simply just wanted to play in the school intramurals.

End result, though: I did not make it to my section D’s Team A (traditionally to be the best of the lot). Neither did I earn a slot with Team B (said to be composed of “average” players).

I (finally) made it to Team C (probably defined as the worst of the lot). For me, it did not matter.

That I was selected I truly appreciate. More so, Nirvana was in my mind for in the end, our section’s Team C won the championship over the other sections (A, B and C).

Allow me to turn back the hands of time. In the hard-fought titular contest, Team C was leading by a point with 15-20 seconds left and here I was fouled with two free-throw attempts coming up. Shaking under pressure, I bungled both charities.

Fortunately, though how short I was, I came up with the rebound off my missed second free throw and danced my way out of harm’s way till the final buzzer sounded.

Team C, of which I was a part of, was declared the champion.

To the young cage athletes of today, this is what I really wanted to point out.

Individual glory is nice and sweet, perhaps even worthy of an ESPN highlight film. But winning a game or a championship is much, much sweeter for basketball is still a team game, whether it was in 1971 or be it in 2020.

Young dude, where do you stand on this issue?

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