PSA awards night: MVP: Let's excel – bit by bit

By Olmin Leyba, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 26 2014 09:20 AM | Updated as of Jan 26 2014 05:20 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Businessman-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan last night exhorted the country’s top achievers led by Gilas Pilipinas to continue being passionate about their respective fields and strive for excellence bit by bit.

Pangilinan received the Executive of the Year plum from the Philippine Sportswriters Association at the Manila Hotel, where Fiba World Cup-bound Gilas Pilipinas was feted also as Athlete of the Year.

“We’re here to honor the people who are passionate about sports and who excel in them. but we’re also here to appreciate the values which underpin that passion. In the past year, Gilas captured that passion and those values with one word – puso!” said the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president.

“I love sports because it teaches us about life and about nation-building. The values learned on the playing field – set goals, work to achieve them, take risks, become team players and endure the criticisms – including those coming from media – prepare us for life. Indeed, sports is a metaphor of life,” Pangilinan added.

Showing a lot of heart and passion, Gilas defied the odds and placed runner-up in the Fiba Asia Championship last year, bringing the country’s place in the world stage back after 40 years.

The cagers will embark on the tougher Fiba Worlds in Spain this year, and while being realistic, Pangilinan said coach Chot Reyes and his crew should shoot for 16th at best.

“We cannot approach international competition with an attitude that’s defeatist or insecure – even if we know that our chances to be No. 1 or 2 may be slim at this time. Sports teaches us that we cannot approach competition by assuming at the outset that we will lose – because we will, indeed,” he said.

He said the target should be to improve little by little.

“Remember, excellence is not a destination which can be reached with just one step. Rather, excellence is achieved brick by brick, bit by bit, step by step. What’s important is to show improvement gradually but consistetly on that long and steep road to excellence. Let’s remember it took 40 years to return to the world stage and it has been 52 years since we last won the basketball gold in the Asian Games.

“In 2007, when SBP was formed we were No. 65 in the Fiba World ranking. After August 2013, we rose to No. 33. Let’s keep improving, Gilas!” he said.

In parting, Pangilinan shared a classic message of the late South African leader Nelson Mandela to their rugby world cup team.

“So let us hear the call to greatness by the late Nelson Mandela when he asked Francois Pienaar, captain of the Springboks rugby team in the movie Invictus, these two questions – how do we get the Springboks to get better than they think they are? How do we inspire them to greatness, when nothing else will do?”