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The Final Score: Waiting for the Philippines’ first NBA star

The more I read about Jeremy Lin, the more I think. Lin, who played for Harvard, signed a two-year contract with the Golden State Warriors. Lin is also Asian-American. I suspect both buzz and qualms over Lin stem from his Ivy League pedigree and Taiwanese lineage. To have the Philippines’ first Yao Ming seems remote at this point. But to imagine a Filipino-version of Lin, a player credited for his talent yet overlooked because of his background, seems more realistic.
The possibility of sending a Filipino to the NBA lingers. By Filipino, though, I mean a player who grew up in the Philippines, started playing with tremendous potential in grade school leagues like the Small Basketeers Philippines then catapulted into the NCAA or UAAP juniors division as a teen-aged phenomenon. Filipino-Americans who learned to play on North American courts are just as Filipino in my book. If one of them plays in even one out of the 82-game NBA schedule, it’ll be big. However, the distinction between making it to the NBA from Defiance High School in Defiance, Ohio and reaching the NBA all the way from San Beda High School in Taytay, Rizal is huge. I am, however, bothered when people only believe we’re world-class when the rest of the world says so. Not to undermine what talented Filipinos have done abroad and how they amaze audiences more diverse than what we have at home, but I also wonder if we put too much value in global validation as well. Isn’t it enough to know we’re good by virtue of self-realization? Must we search tirelessly for another continent’s stamp of approval? Is Charice Pempengco phenomenal because she’s in Glee Season 2 or is she phenomenal simply because she is? In waiting for a James Yap-type to finally break through and be a Los Angeles Clipper, for instance, I won’t hold my breath. It’s not because it won’t happen (because my gut feel tells me it will, eventually). It’s because it doesn’t matter if it happens or not. We’re good at what we do. It shouldn’t make a difference if another time zone agrees with us or opines otherwise. It’s good to dream for our first Leandro Barbosa or Manu Ginobili. It isn’t good to have someone else assess our own basketball self-worth. Still, a widely-recognized Filipino in the NBA can thrust the Philippines on the map without needing to win in the Olympics (or Miss Universe). One player’s effort can do what entire teams have tried to achieve in the last four decades. Someday, we will have our Jeremy Lin. He will electrify Filipino-American communities in the States, inject backing and stepping in the NBA vocabulary and make fans in the Philippines extremely proud. Whoever becomes the first Passerelle alumnus to join the New York Knicks will make money and make waves. Good for him. Good for us. But our basketball devotion is intact. Therefore, the search for our first NBA star is a want, definitely not a need. -- GMANews.TV