There’s something unique about a high school class’ bond. The old jokes, the classic misadventures and those memorable quirks of teenage life never seem to go out of a fashion. However, D2003 wasn’t the always the closest of classes. The only times when the boundaries of those various cliques and peer groups are bridged are during Christmas reunions, obscure parties and, of course, basketball games.
The prospect of least seeing each other each week during ABL season was a welcome thought; hence, the far-flung dreams of fielding a basketball team for the alumni league slowly took form.
I can still remember our first game – a loss at that. We were severely undermanned as our top ace, Merrill Lazo of UAAP Juniors fame, was sidelined by a knee injury. Moreover, a few of our bruisers and old reliables begged off due to commitment issues. Suddenly, we were staring eye-to-eye at the prospect of a losing season.
Since our division was composed mostly of our high school batchmates and their respective reinforcements from all over (several sections from Batch 2003 either merged or took in talented players), we thought about doing the same thing. Although our basketball team was formidable back in high school, we never won a championship. This isn’t high school intramurals anymore where a team’s roster is determined by the class list. This time around, one has to be realistic in order to be competitive.
But then again, our team name is “4D 2003.” We’ve been playing together since 1999 and frankly, we just wanted to enjoy the game the best way we knew it – with each other.
What started out as an exercise of fun in the spirit of old times became a gritty, personal battle for pride. We took it one possession, one point and one game at a time. Amidst the flurry of intense hardcourt exchanges, overtimes, bad games and spectacular plays, we eked out victory after victory after that first loss. Despite being undermanned, the core players of the team (MVP Ryan Agas, Defensive Player of the Year Yayo Puno, Mythical Team Member Adi Dimaliwat, Velden Lim, Gio Librojo and Paolo Rosales) became unwavering ramparts of strength, as the not-so-deep bench provided adequate support.
At first, we were in disbelief, even mildly amused at how good breaks seemed to go our way. Soon enough, the prospect of actually winning that top plum slowly became a reality.
We might have been one of the weaker teams on paper, but basketball – like any other sport – is played on the court, not on sheets of numbers and percentages. Sport goes beyond making baskets and grabbing rebounds. Indeed sports is about being the best, but sport goes beyond winning to something utterly simpler than victory and mere numbers – having a good time with one’s closest friends.
Years from now when we’re older, our faces lined with age, we would surely look back at these days with a certain sense of fondness, not just since we ended up on top, but because we did at as one unit, one team and one united class at long last.