(Editor’s Note: The following article was contributed by Lora Fonacier, wife of Gilas gunner Larry Fonacier, sharing the thoughts and sentiments of the families of the members of the national team after the loss to Chinese-Taipei.)
There was this post of “Enjo Flojo of Rappler” that best describes the Filipino fans’ thoughts on Gilas Pilipinas’ mission in the FIBA Asia Championship.
“And we should be there with them. Every difficult, painful, and tiring step of the way.”
But the line took another perspective and meaning when taken by the families of the men who make up the National team. “Difficult, painful, tiring.” It encapsulates all the sentiments and sacrifices shared by the families.
Difficult were the 16 days in June when they flew out to train in Lithuania, when our kids would look for their fathers everyday. Liam Fonacier, Santi Tenorio, Amara and Aerin Chan, Steph, Laine, Ranidel Jr. and Franceska de Ocampo, Maxine, Gariel and Jeylaa David, Cassius and Orion Norwood, Mic and Caela Pingris, and Zachary Belga that’s not 16 days of elevating the level of play of seven players to be at their best for the FIBA Asia Championship. To these little ones, it’s 16 days without playtime, hugs and kisses from their dads.
Painful were the 11 days in July, when another camp was held in New Zealand. Around this time, two of the Gilas wives were well into their pregnancies, getting heavier and more uncomfortable by the day. I’m one of them. I have been constantly bothered by sciatica throughout this pregnancy, when bouts of back pain and numb lower extremities would just attack – a lot of times, in the middle of the night. Relief came in the ungodly hours when my husband could just reach over and soothe whatever was aching. During the day, it was also him who would pick up the physical part of parenting, where I am currently limited. I missed that relief for 11 days.
Tiring? Well, that was the day we lost to Chinese-Taipei (and still feeling it right now). We watched a game live for the first time since the tournament started. We also spent some time with Larry after the game, regardless of the hour, even if it meant just a few minutes at the lobby of the hotel they’re quartered at. This has been the drill for the past few days, and will remain to be until Aug. 11. We reached home just a little before 2 a.m. after a long travel from Makati to our place in Rizal.
We lost the game. But it took me back to something Larry said in an interview, when asked to whom he is dedicating his performances:
“I just want my son to appreciate the sacrifices that our family has made for the country. I want him to be able to say, ‘My dad did something special and now I want to do something special as well,’” he said.
The boy had his clothes for the game picked out early – a shirt with the Philippine map and flag on it, and adidas shoes. He also insisted I paint his hands and face with the Philippine flag and his dad’s jersey number. He cheered his heart out: “Gilas Pilipinas!!!” “Go L. Fonacier!” He even booed Chinese Taipei players. At some point, I caught him with tears in his eyes. “The Taiwan players are making so many shots,” he said. I understood then that at four years old, he already felt that he was part of this battle. He knows his dad is doing something special and hurts when its success is threatened.
Seeing his dad work hard on something this big has planted a seed of a dream in the little boy. This experience is leaving an indelible mark on his young mind. Being away from him is never easy. But when he makes us proud (especially Liam) and become such a huge part of it, the sacrifice becomes worthwhile.
This national team business is all that – difficult, painful, tiring. But aren’t all great things ever accomplished? Sure, they haven’t won yet. They aren’t even halfway there. Let me rephrase: aren’t all great things ever attempted difficult, painful, and tiring, too?
All things considered, we are sure that for the families of the Gilas Pilipinas men, this particular attempt is already glorious as it is, because we are part of it from the very start.
If the Lord chooses to bless us, we will rise with Gilas Pilipinas. But should they fall short, we’ll also be there with them – our heroes.