foodforthesoul ANECDOTE
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CHALLENGE THE CHAMPION
A basketball game with Ateneo
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[Dramatization based on a true story]
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Tony was the basketball coach when the Ateneo High School Varsity won the championship. Now, he shifted his attention from rich kids to slum kids. As he watched them play on a dirt court, he saw how tough they were and how fantastic their raw talents were, crude but intuitive with quick reflex. He approached their leader Bobby.
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TONY
Hey, Bobby, help me get your friends into the basketball team.
BOBBY
They’re not interested. They play only to enjoy. Then they hang out at the billiard hall.
TONY
But the gang wars begin there.
BOBBY
I know. I keep telling them that’s a dead-end, but they just shrug their shoulders.
TONY
Tell you what. I buy you guys sneakers.
BOBBY
Really? Do we choose what sneakers we buy?
TONY
Sure, as long as it’s within my budget.
BOBBY
No, you get the budget, we choose the brand. That way you get your team.
TONY
[Hesitating] Deal.
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The gang wanted only one brand of sneakers, the expensive kind beyond the reach of Tony’s budget. He went to Ateneo and talked to the varsity team, his former players.
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TONY
Hey guys, I need sneakers for my basketball team, ten squatter kids.
JOEY
Squatter kids? Wow. Nice. Can we play with them?
TONY
No, no. They’re amateurs. You’ll beat them black and blue.
RESTI
You were our best varsity coach. You made us champions, remember?
TONY
Yeah but these kids are different – drink a lot, troublesome …
JOEY
We also drink a lot. Hey guys, can a good coach make players out of squatter kids? [Everyone says yes in unison.]
RESTI
Okay, coach, tell you what. We buy them shoes on one condition. When you’ve trained them, we play with them.
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Everyone screams with approval. Before Tony could reply, donations poured in. These are rich kids. Resti collects and gives a thick wad of bills to Tony after counting it.
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RESTI
Okay, that’s thirty two thousand.
JOEY
Here’s another sixty from me. [He writes a cheque. Everyone boos]
TONY
Hey guys, this is too much. I can’t take these.
RESTI
That’s the challenge, coach. You make champions out of these kids the way you did for us. And the only way to prove they’re champions is for them to beat us. Right guys? [Everyone jeers with approval.]
TONY
I am not sure.
RESTI
Aw c’mon. Prove to us you haven’t lost your touch. Challenge the champion, coach, only way to go. And take the money. [Everyone screams.]
TONY
Okay, challenge the champion, guys. Give me a year.
JOEY
Take two years. [More jeers.] Tell you what. If they beat us, we give you double, a cool hundred thousand. Is that alright guys? [More jeers showing their approval.]
RESTI
Squatter kids beat us? That’ll be the day.
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Tony went back to the squatter kids at the dirt court. He told them they would get ten thousand each if they beat the Ateneo varsity. They hesitated, thinking Goliath was invincible. But the money made them drool. They agreed. Saturday. 2pm.
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TONY
Why are you all wearing beach sandals?
BOBBY
The sneakers are for parties and weddings. We don’t wear them for basketball.
TONY
What? I got you sneakers to play basketball.
BOBBY
We play better with slippers. Jessie and Loy play barefoot. They can’t play with slippers.
TONY
[Moaning.] So I suppose, you also don’t want uniforms?
BOBBY
No need. Just give us the money.
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Realizing how the pocket was connected to the heart, Tony gave in. But he got his squatter team all fired up. Not a single absence in six months. They worked hard. In spite of the slippers, Tony was euphoric. He could see the change in them. It was not just basketball. It was something deeper in their hearts. Tony did not care if they lost the game. This sudden spiritual transformation was all he wanted.
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TONY
I think you guys can beat Ateneo, but it is the attitude that worries me? What do you think of these Ateneans?
JESSIE
Well, they are champions.
TONY
That’s what I mean. You have to remove that from your minds. They are equals. They are not champions, not Ateneans, just players.
LOY
They are rich kids with cars. We’re poor squatters. They are educated, we are not.
TONY
Will you be afraid to face them? [Silence.] They will intimidate you. Can you look at them as equals, even just on the court? That’s all I ask.
BOBBY
We will try. Guys, you heard the coach, okay? [Everyone groans.]
TONY
Loy, stay behind.
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When everyone was gone, Tony supervised Loy on 3-point shots until it was dark. He put in 4 to 5 out of 10 shots. Twice a week, Tony supervised Loy on 3-pointers for 3 hours. Loy started to squirm and complain. But Tony found his weakness. When he treated Loy to fried chicken and rice, he said it was his first time to eat in a restaurant. From then on, it was fried chicken after practice. Loy never missed practice. In 2 weeks, he was making 9 to 10 out of 10 3-pointers.
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LOY
Coach, I notice a change in everyone. I’ve never seen them all so happy. It is as if we’ve discovered something worth fighting for. Suddenly, life is no longer absurd or boring.
TONY
[Putting an arm around Loy.] Yup, way to go, Loy.
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The dreaded game with Ateneo came. The squatter kids, shoeless and shirtless, faced an Ateneo team in full uniform. Problem no. 1 was they were used to sliding on sandy dirt court. They kept tripping on the sticky wooden floor of the Blue Eagle Gym. Ateneo was piling up a lead. During a time out …
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BOBBY
It’s no good, coach. We are slowed down by the rubber slippers.
TONY
Jessie, how are you managing barefoot?
JESSIE
No problem, coach. Wood is like cushion if you are used to dirt ground.
TONY
Okay, everybody, play barefoot.
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The entire team played barefoot. Problem no. 1 was solved. Problem no. 2 was self-confidence and inferiority complex. Poor kids can never think of themselves as equal to rich kids. During a time out, Bobby complained how the Ateneans were laughing at their bare feet.
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TONY
It’s a psyche war. If you react, they win psychologically. Just don’t show you’re pissed off. Smile to show it’s not affecting you. Concentrate on making points. Pass to Loy for 3- pointers. And listen, guys. You never play not to lose. You play to win. [The team gives a hoot.]
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Loy’s long hours of practiced paid off. He made 4 consecutive 3-pointers, reducing Ateneo’s lead to 4 points. After that, the Ateneans stopped laughing at them. This boosted the confidence of the squatter kids. They could beat Goliath if they wanted to. Problem no. 2 was solved. Loy was now double-guarded, so he started passing to Jessie or Bobby deep in the goal area, who took over making points. The squatter kids were now leading by 5. The toughness of squatter kids in their poverty amazed the Ateneans.
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Problem no. 3 was avoiding a brawl. When they started losing, the Ateneans resorted to rough tactics. When Loy had a hard fall after being elbowed, he stood up, and limped away as if nothing happened. A poor kid will challenge a rich kid in private, but never in public. The Ateneans were shocked. They wanted him to fight back, but he just smiled. The rough tactics continued to the end, but it was not working. Problem no. 3 was solved. The Ateneans finally lost by 2 points. Trained in sportsmanship, they went over to the squatter kids and shook their hands.
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The game taught the poor kids self-confidence, and the rich kids humility. It also bridged the gap between rich and poor. They played more games and became close friends. One would win, then the other. The Ateneans wanted the shame of the first defeat to squatter kids kept secret. But when they became friends, they did not care. They were proud of their new friends. The Ateneo team was sharpened by the squatter kids and remained champions in the UAAP for two more years. The squatter kids attended all their games, wanting to play in the UAAP someday.
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in any game, basketball or chess
never play not to lose
always play to win
reach for the stars
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spiritual transformation
is found in dim corners and bright places
they bridge the chasm among people
rich or poor, in cars or in slippers
you just have to find a tiny open window
then the doors slam wide open
because the human spirit is boundless
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eastwind
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APPENDIX
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SCAN MINISTRY ARCHIVES FOR MORE INSPIRATIONAL MATERIALS –
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2010/04/archive00-entire-ministry-library/
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RECEIVE INSPIRATIONAL MATERIALS AUTOMATICALLY –
SUBSCRIBE AT www.sisterraquel.com
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FOR THE SICK – REQUEST FOR HEALING OIL. READ HISTORY –
http://www.sisterraquel.com/2010/07/announcement7-disaster-messages-and-healing-oil-history/
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MOTHER IGNACIA HEALING MINISTRY BLOG SITE
www.sisterraquel.com
eastwind@motherignaciahealingministry.com
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THE LORD REIGNS IN CYBERSPACE.
THE LORD HEALS IN CYBERSPACE.
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amdg
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