I WATCHED the scoreboard, Friday morning in Manila, the Bucks building this big lead over the Heat, almost right from the get-go. Would I dream of a team coming back *to life* (even though, technically, the Heat are still there, gasping, maybe laspag, pagod na, ‘di na makalaban) after being down 0-3? Last NBA Finals, the Heat were down 1-3 against Rondo and the Lakers and I thought, ay malay ko, kaya pa. This Playoffs, they are down 0-3 against Portis and the Bucks; thankfully there are seven other series to watch, like DRose and the Knicks against the young Hawks; Paul George and Clippers losing angst against Doncic; Steph’s Warriors and Manu’s Spurs, gutting it out in 2015, seemingly a century away.
I think of possible Sports news headlines, forthcoming, starting now, or a few days from now: Herro, Heat gone cold this series; Giannis, Bucks, go for the jugular in Game 4. “Jugular,” a useful, dependable, fancy term in Sports writing. Some championships ago, Jordan’s Bulls went for the jugular against the Jazz with MJ crossing over his defender—Byron? Russell? Westbrook?. A different year, the Bulls went for the jugular against… the Jazz din ‘ata when MJ drove to the basket and passed the ball to a wide-open Steve Kerr, ready all day to swish a championship-winning three. Yet another different year, Kerr encouraged Steph to keep shooting threes, no matter how far they are from the three-point line. Steph would capture two MVPs and more rings; Lillard would earn just the nickname ‘Logo Lillard;’ Trae Young would earn just the longer arms of defenders. But at least this playoffs, both Dame and Trae could be a bit smug, At least we’re still here, unlike Steph.
“Jugular,” a dependable, fancy term. Elsewhere, prancing phrases more vulgar, less fragrant, but no less lively, definitely no less lively. These I recall from the tabloids Bulgar and Abante and Pilipino Star and PM (Pang-Masa, under the PhilStar company din) my mother regularly buys every Sundays, occasionally tuwing weekdays, after class niya, pagdaan sa talipapa, kay Jessie na madalas naka-big sando at malaki ang tiyan; hindi naman bulgar, hindi naman iskandaloso.
Purefoods, pinapak ng Ginebra. Ginebra, nilasing ng Coca-Cola. Mobiline, na-lowbat kontra Sta. Lucia. Outside the Sports pages, more colorful language: Binatilyo, timbog sa buy-bust operation. Jowa, binoga ng ka-blind date. Dalawang senador, tiklo sa intelligence operation. Mark Caguioa, kumamada ng 47 puntos para sa Ginebra. Umalagwa ang Red Bull sa second half, sa pangunguna ni Mick Pennisi at Enrico Villanueva.
Thesaurus was a time when I got really wet and giddy and excitedly juvenile over a there was/a thesaurus. Sometimes, there will be the English tabloid Tempo (under Manila Bulletin yata ito) and the Taglish (pagkaalala ko ha) Balita (blue and white and red fonts, unlike Bulgar’s dominantly red and black). I wanted to appreciate the distinctions between “strong” verbs I often read in Sports writing: Behind Sprewell, the Wolves trounced the Hornets. With Iverson’s game-winning jumper, the Sixers edged the Lakers, with Tyronn Lue falling to the side, ready to be stepped over, ready to be a visual piece of NBA history. The Cavs walloped the lowly Bobcats, behind Lebron’s 55 points, a time when he had to carry his team single-handedly, having no Wade as Batman to his Robin. Trounced, defeated, edged, walloped, bested, beat, razed, blew past; naungusan, pinatumba, tinalo, pinadapa. Mostly, they describe a singular scenario—in a sports competition, one team has won over the other—and yet here we are, munching on a parade of words describing what happened.
There’s another quotable thing I vaguely recall. Something like, it does not matter if one loses by two or twenty-two points. Middleton might have hit the game-winning shot in overtime; the Bucks might have strangled the Heat after three quarters, making any potential comeback unlikely. No matter: the Heat are down three games to none, and the verbs are wide open, the modifiers are plenty, to fit how this series has gone so far. Kitakits na lang next week ngarod, sa Suns-Nuggets series, or sa Mavs-Jazz series, at iba pang wishful projections.