She loved coffee first.
Her concoction was a heapful of coffee, creamer and sugar poured into her Peanuts mug. She would then add hot water. She would stir and smell the aroma of the brew only she can make. Then she would let her cup sit for a while. When it’s no longer burning on the tongue, she would stop whatever she’s doing, sit back and enjoy her coffee to her heart’s content.
That’s how her daughter came to know and eventually love coffee.
And then some of her other passions.
It was through her that I came to know the Maestro.
She used to work for his family while completing her secondary education at a night school. She stayed with them up until she met my father and decided to start their own family together. After the birth of their second daughter, both decided she should quit her job and be a stay-at-home mom. But once in a while, she would come and visit the family that lives on Rosa Roxas street.
The Maestro came from a family that knows how to work well with their hands. He made a name for himself when he held the reins and steered the UE Red Warriors to a seven consecutive UAAP crowns. He’s one of the nicest guys around, then and now, who has accomplished much yet has stayed grounded.
I only got to meet the man through my mother’s stories. Stories of how he would personally attend to the men and women that works for him. He was friendly and accomodating, traits he got from his father, the Grand Old Man. If he’s such a man, it’s no wonder why he’s able to rally men behind him in achieving such lofty aims. Only few good men in our present time were able to match his peat, for he set such a high a standard.
At the outset, my appreciation for basketball may be deemed to be just a mere hand me down from mother. It’s all but natural to veer to Mr. Nice Guy who’s got basketball chops and rally behind whichever team he was coaching. It doesn’t hurt also that his bench is filled with upcoming basketball superstars who’s got game just as they’re nice and good looking .
That could have been true in my case, had I not have these two basketball junkies as cousins. My summer breaks with them wouldn’t be complete without watching the pro-league on tv and cheering for their team on amateur league at Silencio. Both were freshmen then, in high school and in college, back in the days where Jerry and Allan won for their alma mater her last two UAAP crowns.
These were the times, at such young age, that I have come to know and love the game. More than Webster defined it to be, “a game played by two teams of five players, the object being to throw the ball into raised basketlike goals at the opposite ends of the court.” The team who scored the most baskets at the end of the regulation period wins the game.
That’s basketball all right. But then to a young girl, it became more than that.
Basketball is also about friendship. It’s about brotherhood. It’s about the relationships you have made with the ones who love the game as much as you do. It’s about the lessons one can glean from and would find useful later in life.
To one, it’s a game he plays and sees that he’s worth more than what some thought he amounts to be.
It’s a game where siblings get to showcase not just their best athletic forms but also strengthen their bond as brothers.
It’s a game where height is might, yes. But there’s always room for the little giants.
It’s a game where one learns to express confidence on his team even when the basketball gods or lady luck was not on your side that particular night.
It’s also a game where one must know when to stop. Or run for your dear life and limb. When the calls are all but bad and the other team have been casting you dagger eyes, do not wait for the shower of stones to fall before you decide it’s not worth your while. Then you run, holding tight to your kuya’s arm.
Then came my time to walk the halls were Warrior luminaries used to walk. I too, donned the Warrior’s color proudly, knowing that Lualhati always brings forth a good portion of the best crop to the UAAP table. We just need to be patient, a season of harvest is sure to come.
While the first winningest collegiate team has yet to end a championship drought, the pro-league team of my childhood is still duking it out. With the dawn of the new era, new rivals have emerged and the baton of leadership has been passed on to a younger generation. But the objective has not changed, pursue basketball excellence. It seemed like a lifetime ago, but the Captain and his team stood tall among them all yet again.
And then came the call. The Caller I can not dare ignore.
A decade after, my break was granted. And one of the perks given this doulus on hiatus is to trace what have become of my teams.
The Warriors are still engaged in a battle, inside and out, it seemed.
My pro-league taem has undergone yet another series of major changes. At the helm now is the Master of the Triangle. The Captain then, now manages the team. The roster is a mix of of the best ball players from different collegiate teams. The charge, though still remains, the pursuit of basketball excellence.
Much has change in a decade that’s gone by. And I have come to appreciate the game in a whole new light.
One can’t be a playmaker forever. You’re now relegated to the sidelines. But you can take on a role that’s equally important in determining your team’s success or demise.
The statement, The grass is always greener on the other side, may be true this time.
You will win some, you will lose some. It’s another day in the office. You pick yourself up. Figure out what worked, what didn’t. You should pat yourself/your buddies on the back for hustling it out. Cheer up! You can always bounce back. It ain’t over till the balloons have fallen. Play another day.
Be nice! Always! To your fans or otherwise. You may win over a new supporter with just an authograph or a photograph.
Trust Coach! He knows what’s best for his guys. He’s the winningest coach, remember?
Good things comes to those who has the patience to work well with what they’re given, for now. In time, you’ll be given a playing time.
And if one must love coffee, you must love wholeheartedly!