ONE of the many good things in life is receiving a personal letter.
Not many come in the mail anymore since they’ve been replaced by phone calls, texts, chats and many other modern-day communication gadgets.
Nowadays, e-mails are the sure thing. I receive a lot of them from readers who liked or disliked something I wrote in my sports column.
And whenever I received an email, I make it a point to respond to the letter-senders as soon as I can.
Four months ago, I wote a column about the ‘Living Legend, Robert Jaworski. It reads:
“In the long history of basketball in the country, only a few player-coaches achieve the status of legend in their lifetimes. Caloy “The Big Difference” Loyzaga, Lauro “The Fox” Mumar, Charlie Badion, Ed Ocampo, Turo Valenzona, Ato Tolentino, Ramon Fernandez. And of course, Robert “The Big J” Jaworski. They were all different. But they all have one thing in common: the ability to inspire. They all can motivate their players to sacrifice their own welfare and work for the good of the team.”
Not surprisingly, I received a letter from an avid basketball fan. Here’s how I replied:
I’m sorry I disappointed you with my personal observations but I really think Robert Jaworski remains as the greatest Filipino player even long after his retirement. His records speak for themselves. It’s not really blasphemy, as you put it, to set aside the achievements of such basketball greats as Caloy “The Great Difference” Loyzaga and Lauro “The Fox” Mumar and all the other great Filipino players in order for me to highlight the achievements of Jaworski. You may not agree with me, but I dare say that Jaworski and basketball remain synonymous. In fact, his name went into the language, with such phrase as “jealous wives guarding their good-looking husbands ala Jaworski.”
One loyal reader, Mick Miranda, wrote to give his five cents’ worth about his favorite sport of basketball. My reply:
Your observations that the Philippine team needs hard-nosed player like Calvin Abueva and that our foreign coach Tab Baldwin should have given Junemar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar more playing time during the recent FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila are correct, I think. Except for one or two, I agree with most of your suggestions on how to improve the competitiveness of our national teams. But like you, we can only hope that the basketball gods are listening (or, reading in this case) to suggestions on ways to improve the team. And because I can’t print your letter in full, I suggest you also furnish a copy to BAP-SBP president Manny V. Pangilinan and other top basketball officials.
Another reader, Anton Herrera, was clearly disappointed to see the Philippines fielding eight American players -- and only five Filipinos -- in the 2016 W. Jones Cup in Taipei.
I fully agree with your observation that homegrown Filipino players should have represented the Philippines in the Jones Cup.
With so many talented players in both commercial and collegiate leagues, it puzzles even sportswriters why the team sponsor, Mighty Sports, and its coach Bo Perasol decided to hire eight -- you read it right, eight -- American players to represent the country.
Like thousands of basketball fans, we now ask the same questions: “Don’t we have enough talented players to don the country’s colors anymore?”, “Do we really need Americans to win the title for us?”, “If we win the title, can we be truly proud about it?” and “What’s the SBP, the local governing body, doing about it?”
Based on reports, the eight Americans in the team are NBA veteran Al Thornton, Dewarick Spencer, Hamady Ndiaye, Vernon Macklin, Zach Graham, Mike Singletary, Troy Gillenwater and Jason Brickman
The five Filipino players in the team are Jeric Teng, Leo Avenido, Larry Rodriguez, Sunday Salvacion and Eldrick Ferrer.
Looking even farther back , I wrote about controversial Basketball Association of the Philippines (BAP) secretary-general Graham Lim and his lonely battle against the basketball gods. I received several emails and one of them came from a long-time friend who disagreed with my observations.
It was good to hear from you after all these years. You said you’ve liked a lot of things I’ve written in this page. So how come you waited to write until I wrote something you disliked? Although he is my friend, I’m not writing solely to defend Graham against all the unfair accusations hurled against him. But I admit writing about the many good things I knew about him because people tend to easily forget when somebody is down. It’s human nature, I guess. But even if I have to weigh in with the minority again, I think I’ll stay true to what I believe.
There are also emails which say nothing but praise. Of course, this is the kind of letters that most columnists would like to receive. I thank them now.
Thank you for your very encouraging words. You’re exactly the kind of readers I like. You’re very generous to write to say that my column is a delight to the readers. With readers like you, I’m sure there will be more columnist like me.
Dear Avid Fan,
Thank you for always reading People’s Tonight. It gives me pleasure to know that you have been enlightened in several controversial issues by reading my column. And manthanks, too, for asking God to bless me.
Of course, there is also one really angry letter which I answered., albeit briefly.
Dear Angry Reader,
I don’t exactly know what you do for a living, but you might consider writing angry letters full time. If I remember it correctly, this is the third time you’ve written to criticize my work. My suggestion to you: buy another newspaper.