Last October 25, the Adamson University (AdU) Soaring Falcons handed the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers their 11th straight loss for UAAP Season 80. Of course, the recurring storyline of the season was the Tigers’ historic struggles under often-criticized head coach Boy Sablan, so the loss was nothing new at that point.
However, that particular game made headlines after a photo circulated online of Isaac Coloma, a UST student standing all alone in the stands during the singing of the school hymn.
According to comments posted by Coloma himself on the Growling Tigers page, numerous UST players thanked him personally online for still showing up to the game despite the winless season.
But today, if Coloma was watching live, cameras couldn’t spot him this time. However, that is probably what he wanted to happen. For today, hundreds of fans circled the stands of the Araneta Coliseum, bringing along signs like “Viva Santo Tomas” which haven’t been seen since the Tigers fought in the UAAP finals two years ago. There were also new signs like “1-13” from fans hoping that their team wouldn’t go down for the year without a victory.
In front of the hundreds who hoped, the Growling Tigers delivered, winning 88-85 over the University of the East (UE) Red Warriors. The 17-game losing streak dating back to last year had been broken, and UST avoided the first winless season in school history.
More importantly, however, “Go Uste!” rang out to the rafters once again.
Much like UST itself, the iconic chant had already become an institution – a treasure that was lost in the three months that this season ran. For these three months during games, the UST drummers would repeatedly signal the beginning of the chant, only to be answered by the echoes of their own voices.
One would probably think that the players had not been affected with the loss of their imposing and feared sixth man, the fan base. After all, it’s all about playing the game. But Sidney Goldstein, a 15-year basketball coach and author, argues otherwise.
“Emotion is a big part of the game. In a psychological sense, emotion is the driving force behind everything that we do,” said Goldstein in a 2003 article titled “Emotion as Part of the Basketball Game.”
The Growling Tigers proved this by flocking to thank Coloma. Players like Marvin Lee, Justin Arana and even Steve Akomo who struggled with his English, took the time to write heartfelt messages of appreciation.
The fans returning for the Tigers’ last game was especially helpful for the graduating Jeepy Faundo, who took the time to thank them before leaving the arena for the last time as a player.
“Ang masasabi ko lang sa kanila ay thank you kasi sa last game, kahit ganun yung nangyari sa team, may naniniwala pa rin sa’min na manalo,” he said. “Tsaka ‘yung game na ‘yun, dinedicate namin sa kanila, kay God at sa UST community na sumuporta at nagbigay ng time para panoorin ‘yung last game namin.”
(“I can only say thank you to them because in the last game, even though that’s what happened to the team, there are still people who believe we can win. We also dedicate that game to them, to God and to the UST community who supported us and gave time to watch our last game.”)
The wins and losses come and go, but the fans who come to games and support their teams will always be the players’ emotional bedrock. They’re there to celebrate with the wins and comfort with the losses. Without them, playing basketball seems to lose a lot of meaning. – Rappler.com