By Dale Joseph Diño (Phagemids)

Loud, unharmonious sounds of blending “S”s and “G”s, with bottles banging the cement stairs, and overused voices chant their signature cheers overwhelm the atmosphere as it devours the whole court when the clock strikes the first game of the concluding match of PalaCASan 2015’s Basketball Men’s Division. The night was filled with echoes of hope and courage that shoots out of the star-filled sky. Players from both sides get ready to face each other in the much awaited face-off – which is a déjà vu because this happened at the same court, same time and same place last year. The only thing new here are the new faces nervously waiting, and new timbre of voices piercing the night sky. And when the referee blew his whistle, it all began.

Defending the title and aiming for a two-peat championship, members of Genesoc are very eager and nervous. On the other side of the court, members of SAM-UP equally feels the same way aiming to claim the basketball championship crown which was stolen from them from last year’s PalaCasan. After the first jump ball, everything happened swiftly. Players ran from both sides of the court with their squeaking shoes (and not to mention, sweat not dripping, but flowing out of their skin). Every dribble of the ball makes everyone’s heart thump, and every point from each player was followed by a loud cheer motivating players inside the court to bag this year’s trophy. In the first half, SAM-UP was leading with over 20 point difference. This did not made Genesoc lose their knees and continued the fight to the second half showing what the past champions are made of. Then when fourth quarter came, tables were turned. Genesoc and SAM-UP tied their score. This made the cheer turned into an uproar. The unharmonious cheering in the start became an orchestration towards the end of the game. Both organizations’ chant powerfully drove every player in their game. As the countdown for the last ten seconds began, everyone was clenching their hands, praying something for their respective organization and as the moment approaches…3…2…1, the referee signaled the end of the game. At that very same time, Genesoc belted out their cheer which echoed the night sky with “Puso at Talino (Passion and Excellence)”.  Genesoc - 1; SAM-UP – 0.

Then tomorrow came. This is the tomorrow that will really decide what the future will bring. Will Genesoc still defend their title in this event, or will SAM-UP manage to steal it from them. As expected, more people came to witness this head-to-head battle for the championship as most organizations look forward to the conclusion of this event. Contrastingly, cheering was a bit more of a lullaby because of internal arrangement between the official of the barangay and the hosting organization. Cheering was prohibited due to the noise which will startle the neighborhood. Apparently, both organizations didn’t let this notice to hinder them to root for their teams. Loud cheers, but not as loud as yesterday night’s game, were thrown by the organizations in a call-response form.  However, unlike the game yesterday, this was a clear cut. Yellow indeed was the color of happiness as SAM-UP took this game. But as they say, tomorrow is definitely another day as Genesoc and SAM-UP will meet again in this very same court to continue this game. Genesoc – 1; SAM-UP – 1.

The last game for this season continues to intensify. Today is the match that will decide who will be victorious and grab the trophy home. Who among the two organizations will win be crowned champion? Will Genesoc have their very much awaited two-peat championship, or would SAM-UP bring back their crown and grab the championship this year. It is morning and the setting its glare at the court but the players warming up could not par with the heat. Then the whistle came, signifying the start of the game. Fingers were crossed as the ball flew upwards, jump ball! Players run back and forth the court heightening their defense and pushing their offense through their limits. The late morning was field with roars from both sides with a hint of nervousness and willingness to get this year’s crown. Ball thumps, passed and then shoot. This repeated sequence didn’t bore me; rather it made me think that it’s a good thing I didn’t take my coffee before going to this game. Players are really energized as their shirts become wet that you can actually squeeze it all out. Then the buzz came…end of the second quarter. SAM-UP is on the lead, but this didn’t make Genesoc lose their grounds, also SAM-UP didn’t have time to be complacent as the second half approaches. But beyond these gestures and facial expressions are the whispered prayers of luck. Then it started again. The rally between the two teams made the ball more exhausted than the players. The fighting spirit was overwhelming. Not only the players but also everyone in the court including the referees and the facilitators are having a one-of-a-kind adrenaline rush as the score tied by the end of the third quarter. 

There was a load of prayers directed to anyone who can actually hear (or feel) it. Cheers raged the court. Eyes started to dilate. Panting and puffing becomes evident. Hearts double their beating. It is like watching a romantic movie in the climactic scene, minus the romance part, because this is action. 

As the ball charges, players didn’t have time to lower their defenses. The ambiance is so intense that it got me thinking “This really is a championship game”. The roars, shouts, cheers and dripping of sweat continues as the game approaches the last 30 seconds of the game. This is the longest 30-seconds I have ever experienced. Who could’ve thought that within that span of time, more points can be gathered and more throwing, passing, and shooting could be done. It continued until the last whistle of this season pierced the afternoon with a score of 49-44. A second or two had passed before everyone else realized that it has been decided. Genesoc remained to hold the title!

It was such a great experience to witness not only this championship game, but also how this season ended. This season ended not with the whistle, nor the tears. It ended with a sincere exchange of “Thank you” from both parties. This season was full of smiles, tears, hopes, fears, and also stretched vocal cords. PalaCASan really embodies the virtues of sportsmanship and camaraderie. Ending this season with a bang, it really makes me feel excited for next year as Genesoc will be hosting the next season.