by John Remil Isaga
The UP Fighting Maroons men’s basketball team held a basic basketball clinic for the Lumad children last night at the College of Human Kinetics new gym.
The clinic had five stations, namely the Defense, Ball Handling, Lay-up, Shooting and Water Break stations. Each station was supervised by players who taught the children the basics of the game.
This was the brainchild of team captain JR Gallarza, who thought that holding a clinic was the team’s own little way of easing up the life of the children who had gone through so much tragedy at such a young age.
“Back home in Canada, I was a basketball councilor and I had clinics like this, so I thought, ‘Why not hold one for the Lumads?’” said the fifth-year forward from Ontario.
The players then conducted a scrimmage and teamed up with some of the Lumad children. Clad in yellow and green UP jerseys, the children showcased what they have learned from the clinic, with a young girl from the Yellow Team even intercepting a long and seriously executed pass from guard Pio Longa.
The Maroons’ big men Cheick Kone and Andrew Harris gave the children a show with a pair of powerful dunks, which were incidentally the only field goals scored by all team players, as they let the Lumads have the ball all the time.
During the game, the Lumads who were not playing shouted familiar team chants like “Unibersidad” and “Let’s Go UP!” after being taught by USC Councilors Kali Navea-Huff and Bryle Leano.
While the rules were enforced, leeway was given to keep the game light fun. Gallarza, who served as the referee for the game, therefore got jokingly booed by his own teammates when he called a double-dribble violation on a Lumad girl.
After five-minutes of surprisingly fast-paced action, the Yellow Team squeaked past the Green Team, 14-12, after a buzzer-beating layup from a Lumad boy.
After the game, the teams huddled up and Gallarza gave a special message of solidarity for the Lumads. Then they got their hands together and shouted “UP Fight!” in unison.
The Lumad children who attended the clinic are a part of Manilakbayan: Kampuhan sa Diliman, a week-long solidarity campaign and mass integration of the students and faculty of UP Diliman with the indigenous peoples of Mindanao, some of whom are related to the victims of the recent killings by paramilitary groups within their communities.