JAKARTA—Chris Tiu and James Yap broke their diets on Wednesday afternoon.
The two guards had been sticking to a healthy meal plan in this city, eating mostly salad and wheat pasta in an attempt to keep their bodies in peak condition for the 2018 Asian Games.
On Wednesday, however, all their meal plans flew out the window when they attended a lunch at the Kemang Club Villas, hosted by the Philippine Basketball Community (PBC) here.
The PBC were responsible for providing the national basketball team with a court to practice in last week, and their assist to the squad did not stop there. This time, they provided a fantastic meal to the players who have been missing Filipino food for well over a week now.
“Tinira ko ‘yung lechon tsaka liempo,” said Yap. “Ganoon din si Mr. Tiu, tinira niya ‘yung liempo. Ang daming kinain.”
Tiu added: “Noong nakita nga ‘yung lechon, tinira na namin kaagad. Hindi pa pinapakain, pero sumubo na kami ng pasimple lang.”
“Kalahating (lechon), naubos ni Asi (Taulava),” Yap also said.
Taulava was apparently outdone by Beau Belga. “Si Beau din, kalahating baboy inubos ni Beau. Sa kaniya pa lang, ubos na isang lechon,” Tiu said.
The fiesta-like atmosphere was a boost to the spirits of the team, which was coming off a sorry 82-80 loss to China on Tuesday night. It was a fine performance from the hastily assembled squad, anchored by a 28-point outing for Jordan Clarkson in his debut for the Philippines.
Clarkson did not attend Wednesday’s get-together; he had excused himself as he needed to take some time to rest before plunging back to work on Thursday, according to coach Yeng Guiao. But the rest of the squad was there to be feted by the Filipinos in Jakarta and to partake in the lunch they had prepared.
Aside from the lechon and liempo that the team clearly favored, there was also rellenong bangus, shrimp, and dinuguan. For dessert, the team dug into leche flan and buko pandan.
It was a much-needed taste of home for the Filipino players, who were admittedly getting tired of the food served at the athletes’ village.
“More than one week na dito sa athletes' village, pare-pareho na 'yung itsura tsaka amoy ng pagkain. Suyang-suya na kami,” said Tiu.
“Pero noong nakita na may mga Pinoys na may pakain ng Filipino food, it made us feel at home, it made us remember what it's like to be back home. Hindi na kami masyado naho-home sick na.”
Guiao, who also received a batik-patterned shirt as a gift from the Filipinos, was grateful at the effort made by the community.
“We really appreciate it. Sabi ko nga umay na kami sa pagkain sa athletes' village. We're really appreciative of the Filipino community. I know na malaking effort ito, I know na may gastos ito, I know na 'yung time nila, nakuha natin,” said Guiao.
“So ganoon na lang ang pasasalamat namin na nakabawas sila sa homesickness naming.”
Guiao said the delicious food served was exactly what the doctor ordered for the homesick team.
“Ang daming pagkain, ang sarap pa, at saka 'yun ang hinahanap na pagkain ng mga players natin tsaka ng coaching staff, actually,” he said. “Ang laking pasasalamat namin sa kanila.”
“Sila rin ang tumulong sa amin para magkaroon kami ng court para humaba ang ensayo namin. Kaya parte sila ng success natin dito sa Asian Games.”
The team will take the rest of the afternoon enough as well, but on Thursday it will be back to business as they prepare for a quarterfinal showdown against perennial nemesis Korea.
“Bukas, balik sa trabaho,” said Guiao. “Paghahandaan na namin 'yung Korea.”
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