Scottie Thompson in a Pilipinas jersey is the plot twist we need

Life for a basketball fan, in general, sucks. The basketball gods largely don’t care about your feelings, and they’d often do something cruel to hurt you. (Unless you’re a Warriors fan, in which case please wipe that smug grin off your face, kindly exit the room, and go celebrate life someplace else, thank you.)

Here are a few recent examples of some of the harsh realities that basketball fans, myself included, have to face:

– Manu Ginobili, the only splash of neon in a black-and-white Spurs world, has announced his retirement.

– Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero have committed to making unlimited highlights in the UAAP, but we’ll have to wait a year to see the mixtape.

– Jordan Clarkson, after a long will-he or won’t-he thriller, finally made his Pilipinas debut versus China. Then cramped up in the endgame.

But life, sometimes, is okay. There are small pockets of time, as fleeting as they are, when you feel unworthy of the gifts from the basketball powers-that-be.

There are plot twists that can make you smile. If you’re a Laker fan (and a fan of winning, amirite Kobs?), then that gift is LeBron James. If you’re a Ginebra fan, then it’s Justin Brownlee. If you’re a Gilas fan, then it’s Christian Standhardinger’s willingness to go hard all night long like Lionel Ritchie.

If you’re a Scottie Thompson fan—AND a Gilas fan—then the news of his inclusion in the pool of players that will represent the country for the coming window of the Asian qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup is… a blessing.

My chronic wounds from the recent losses to China and Korea haven’t fully healed, and it may take a miracle worker, someone who is capable of miraculous feats, to make things better. Scottie is that dude. If you’re not a believer, search for Scottie Thompson videos on YouTube, watch his moves intently, and come back from this little exercise as a respectable woke person with decent Scottie Thompson takes.

It was only a matter of time before Scottie’s name, the PBA Finals MVP, is thrown into the mix of Team Pilipinas hopefuls. It was inevitable. He had it coming.

Three years ago, Scottie donned a Pilipinas jersey as part of a young Philippine team that absolutely crushed the competition at the 2015 SEABA Championship. He looked good in it. He wasn’t a pro yet, but he was already doing pro things in an uncooked, unpolished style.

In one game against Laos where his shot betrayed him (2 of 10 FG), Scottie went to work and grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out 7 assists. There’s also one game against Brunei where Scottie held a passing clinic and dropped dime after dime after dime until the tally sheet showed he had enough with 12 assists (he averaged 4 assists per game in the tournament).

That same year, Scottie also grabbed gold at the SEA Games as one of the cadets of the Gilas program. That same program has had its fair share of heartaches since then, zigging through eligibility issues, punches, and suspensions while Scottie zagged his way into championships and into the hearts of PBA fans. Gilas is battered and bruised and fighting, and it’s calling Scottie back.

“Willing ako para sa bansa natin syempre,” Scottie said when asked about his thoughts on the invitation to join the pool that will prepare for tough battles against Iran and Qatar this month.

Of course, he’s willing. If he’s willing to sacrifice his scoring to fit in Tim Cone’s system in Ginebra and if he’s willing to throw his body in the air to save a possession, then no doubt he’s willing to play for country. I bet he’s willing to wear his old Pilipinas jersey from 2015 if he has to.

Just put him in the game and watch him magically do something great in the chance he’s given. He’s like that guy in every barkada who effortlessly slays karaoke nights. Just pick a random song, enter 2579 or whatever, and he’ll get a score of 99, guaranteed. That’s Scottie Thompson on the basketball court. He enters a game and he’ll get an assist, a rebound, a steal, a layup, and other things that don’t show up on the stats like a perfect rotation pass, a solid screen, or a helpful box out.

Scottie is the no-nonsense guy that Gilas needs right now. Someone who can play relentlessly, within a system, without ever causing any sort of drama or controversy. There’s already too much of those to go around. What we need is a really humble guy who can kick ass on the court; someone who can outrebound the Hamed Haddadis of FIBA.

Scottie Thompson in a Pilipinas jersey is the plot twist we need.

What I’m trying to say is it’s tough being a basketball fan—doubly tough if you’ve emotionally invested on the national team. We’re all hungry for a feel-good story. I propose we start with this:

“Scottie Thompson to play for Gilas in FIBA World Cup qualifiers.”

Photos from the SEA Games and SEABA Championship