IF THERE is one thing that separates the great from the good in sports, particularly in contact sports like boxing and mixed martial arts, okay throw in a team sport like basketball, I believe it is the killer’s instinct of the athlete or the team.
At his peak, it was very evident that Manny Pacquiao had this trait, something enabled him to score abbreviated victories over a number of opponents.
Manny could sense when he had his opponents in a daze and the more that he poured it on until his opponents simply succumbs to the law of physics, that a human body can only withstand a certain level of continuous punishment until it gives in.
Watch Manny's previous fights against Marco Antonio Barrera and Oscar de la Hoya, among others , that's what I do and switch to You Tube in my daughter’s 50-inch smart TV that we use at home.
This is the same trait that you would see in other great boxers, they all knew when to pour it all out, and for me, they had perfected their own killer's instinct. Unfortunately, I do not see that anymore in Manny as age has slowed him down and his single punch knock out loss to Juan Manuel Marquez several years ago has taught him to be more wary of his opponents.
Now why am I talking of killer’s instinct in sports ?
Well, presently on-going is the SEABA Championship that we are hosting here and Gilas coach Chot Reyes has formed a team composed of veteran PBA superstars like Jun Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro,Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, and Japeth Aguilar together with up and coming young players, the likes of Roger Pogoy, Raymond Almazan, Allein Maliksi, Troy Rosario and Matthew Wright, then re-signed Andray Blatche.
The mission is to win the crown, nothing less to assure the Philippines of a slot in the FIBA Asia Cup, the qualifying tournament in turn for the FIBA Asia World Cup.
This is what the boys have to accomplish by sweeping the rest of the competing countries, Indonesia, Thailand,Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Myanmar, and believe me, our boys will.
What led me to write about killer's instinct was our first game against a hapless Myanmar squad whom the boys massacred 147 - 40 with a lot of comments on social media that we could have gone easier on those hapless opponents.
Or that we could have sent a second team and not this bunch of PBA superstars to prey on a weak field that is the SEABA, a long time ago, when there was no SEA Games yet, we had the Pesta Sukan Games and the Philippines was a perennial champion in basketball despite sending a secondary team.
The practice was continued into the SEA Games, following the agreement between the PBA and basketball officials, BAP then SBP, that the PBA will only lend players for the Asian Games but not for the SEA Games .
This was the same practice of the United States when it used to send collegiate players to international competitions until the rest of the basketball world, Europe in particular, started beating them, and shamed, the Americans turned to their NBA superstars to reclaim their hold on world basketball supremacy.
I guess this is the same path that the SBP, behind Manny Pangilinan, whose passion about basketball I will never question, has decided to follow.
Going back to the first Monday quarterbacks' comments after our first game, I believe that Chot has to inculcate in his boys this instinct to go all out against any opponent, weak or strong . They should beat the hell out of their opponents, the bigger the margin, the better. The boys' mission is to win.
A mindset for players does not come automatically, it is taught, explained, and developed continuously.
Sonny Jaworski did the same thing with the Ginebra team of old, fight to the end with no let up.
Our second game was against a better opponent, Singapore, but again, we played to the hilt and won 113- 66. We play Malaysia next, a team that in the past gave us a hard time in the SEA Games, this time, it will be different, am looking at a 30 to 40 point winning margin, on the assumption that the boys have started developing that killer's instinct I am talking about.
And no matter how it is hyped up that Indonesia, which is supposed to field in a naturalized player, will give us a fight. But again, a 30-point victory is what I f oresee. Our team is simply in a class by itself .
Okay, boys, I am done talking, you do the whipping and prove me right.