Lucky were those who couldn't make it during the week; the Philippine team's match against Kazakhstan was on a Sunday, September 28. No wonder, there must have been a thousand Filipinos lining up in front of the ticket booths at Hwaseong Sports Complex hoping to get a ticket for Gilas Pilipinas match against Kazakhstan before it started.
And since it was a rare chance for Filipinos to watch a Philippine basketball team play in Korea, during the 2014 Asian Games, Pinoys made sure they were able to watch the Gilas team either at Hwaseong Sports Complex or at Samsan World Gymnasium.
If the Gilas Pilipinas match against Iran was like a fiesta, the match against Kazakhstan was more like a loud cheering session because the whole gymnasium, this time, was full of Pinoy fans from the lower seats up to the bleachers. Every time Gilas Pilipinas scored, a roar must have been heard around Hwaseong City. Even though the Kazakh team didn't seem to have any cheerer in the stands, they remained focus and shut the Pinoys up when it mattered the most.
(Iced cafe mocha before the match)
From the 1st quarter until the third when, at times, the Gilas team had a 14-point advantage, the Pinoy crowd screamed and cheered when the team was winning and was almost to make the 11-point advantage in the final score, so it could continue their campaign for a medal-worthy performance in this Asiad.
But as the minutes (and seconds!) of the 4th quarter counted down, the cheering seemed to have decreased, too. Why? Because the Gilas scoring edge was evaporating! One by one! Literally!
(The two teams being introduced)
And also one by one, the Pinoy crowd was quieted, silenced, shut up, however you called it, as the numbers on the score board were slowly shocking everyone in the gym. Maybe it was the shock of disbelief as to what just happened, or the realization that Gilas Pilipinas wasn't after all going further in this competition.
Or maybe it was the disappointment that, after the long hours of traveling to down to Hwaseong Sports Complex, which was in the middle of nowhere, lining up to get a ticket, and all the screaming and cheering, in the end, it would just be a 2-point win. It was still a win, but a win that wouldn't help in the much hyped 'being-the-favorite' buzz all over the social media even before the team landed at Incheon International Airport.
But that's sports. Just like in tennis, it's not over until you both shake hands at the net. I guess in basketball, it's not over until the final buzzer, or in the case of this match, it wasn't over until all the Pinoys finally realized what just happened. Ha-ha-ha!
Oh, well. That's sports. As they say, you lose some, you win some. Or in this case, you lose all those 14 points. Or maybe only 12.
Here are some photos of the Gilas Pilipinas vs. Kazakhstan match:
(The Kazakh coach protesting with the referees)
(Cheering after a basket)
(Fans spotted Jay Washington in the bleachers)
(Jay Washington with a young fan after the match)
(First quarter score)
(14-point advantage at the start of the 3rd quarter)
And thanks to friends Stephene and Arlene for organizing our Asian Games trip that day, and to Mr. Moon for driving us down there. After the match, disappointed and hungry, we drove back to Seoul and ended up at Seoraemaul, or the French Village, and assuaged our disappointment with burgers and shakes, courtesy of Archie. Thanks, Archie!
(A towering 'Brooklyn Works' burger)
(With the delightful 'Nutella with burnt marshmallows' milkshake)
So, if you, too, are more interested in burgers than basketball, drop by the Brooklyn Burger in Seoul at the French Village. Make sure you're early; the lines could be long especially during weekends.