Saturday, September 29, 2007

Basketball Diary: The First and Final Entry

The ball bounced repeatedly on the pavement as one of my mates dribbled it effortlessly before throwing the ball towards the basket is a seemingly fluid motion. “Two points!” Someone yelled. It was eight in the morning, and I’m sweating in my blue jogging pants and T-shirt. I was dreading this day: practical exam for basketball.

“For the girls, they get five tries on the free throw line. You get a grade of 1.0 if you manage to shoot at least 4 balls. Minus .5 every time you miss one, and if you only shoot one ball out of five tries you get 2.5, if none then you get 3.0” The burly instructor said.

“For the boys, you will get only three tries. You get an automatic 1.0 if you shoot all the balls from the 3 point line. 1.5 for two, and 2.0 for a single shot. If none, then you get a 3.0”

“Great.” I said sarcastically under my breath. I never really got into sports (I was tiny and skinny when I was younger so I never bothered), though I can be athletic when I want to. The problem was that as much as I enjoyed swimming and hiking, team sports were never really my thing. I decided to stay on the sidelines, hoping to be invisible for the day.

They started with the girls, calling names one by one. By the time the last girl was called, I was feeling nauseous. As they started calling the boy’s names I thought I was going to throw up. I tried to look nonchalant, as I sat with the girls on the bleachers, wiping the cold sweat off my forehead.

“Hinunangan!” I heard my name being called, and I walked slowly toward the center of the court. My heart pounded.

“Ok start!” With shaky hands, I lift the oversize orange ball and threw it in the air. I heard snickers from the guys as it barely grazed the ring. “You can do this!” I told myself, “C’mon Thad, you do well on almost anything you set your mind to.”

I relaxed a bit. I dribbled the second ball and tried to make the three points. “Thump!” The ball hit the wooden board way above the ring. Off base, again.

One of the guys tried coaching me. “Do this, do that. Use your other hand to support the ball while the other one pushes.” My sweat seemed to be pouring buckets. My cheeks were red, not from the heat or the sunlight, but from humiliation.

I pick up my last ball and take a deep breath. “Whoosh!” I threw it as towards the ring.. and then it misses its mark and lands on the garden patch way outside the court. My cheeks were flaming; I never did so horribly in anything before.

“Two more tries!” The instructor said. I didn’t know if I was going to be happy or insulted that he took pity on me and decided to give me five chances like the girls instead of the three tries for guys.

Reluctantly, I picked up the ball. I really had a bad feeling this wasn’t going to end happily. I said a silent prayer as I tried my luck with this ball. It was off target like the others, and bounced wildly as it landed on the concrete.

“Last ball.” I pick it up for my last desperate attempt. Things seemed to happen in slow motion as the ball left my hands as I threw it upwards towards the ring. You would think on my fifth try, I’d at least get one… Didn’t happen!

I watched in dismay as it hit the edge of the ring and bounced off. “There goes my last shred of self esteem.” I muttered. As I walk towards the wooden bleachers, I saw the instructor mark the space opposite my name: 3.0.


Anonymous said...

hmmmnnn... 3 is a passing grade ryt? :-i

Phoenix said...

@ Josh: horaaay I passed hehe ; )

stephy^ said...

I remember that day quite clearly.
That day was as cruel to you as it was to me.
We were screeching like groupies while you tossed the big bad ball towards the board. "Go Kuya Thad!"
Though you got a 3.o (as I did for, like, all the practical exams :< ), not one of our hoop-shooting guy classmates can't deny that you had the most fans cheering you on. *wink*

Phoenix said...

@ stephy: Diba tayo officers ng club ng mga "tres" and grade sa practical? LOL!


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