Nine out of the 12 men donning the Gilas Pilipinas jersey found themselves tossed off the court after engaging in a free-for-all skirmish with their Australian counterparts that broke out in their Group B matchup at the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers on Monday.
Despite having to go 3 versus 5 in the dying minutes of a ball game now followed by the entire world, the highest praise has been reserved for Baser Amer, June Mar Fajardo and national team captain Gabe Norwood.
‘Last men standing’
Footage of the three lone Gilas players who were not ejected after the now-infamous brawl playing against a full five-man contingent from Australia has gone viral.
The three players played out the remaining four minutes in the third quarter. By the time officials declared Australia’s victory by default, the score was 89-53. The three-man Filipino squad had managed to put up just five points against the Australians.
Despite the shocking defeat and the criticism that has rained upon their teammates, waves of praise have come for the trio.
Saludo kay June Mar Fajardo, Gabe Norwood and Baser Amer!
— Gilas Pilipinas (@smartgilasph) July 2, 2018
June Mar Fajardo. Gabe Norwood. Baser Amer.
— Tricia Robredo (@jpgrobredo) July 2, 2018
Quite literally “the last man standing,” the guard from the Meralco Bolts has been featured on various memes. After Norwood and Fajardo fouled out, Amer became the last player left to play for the Philippines. This led to Australia winning by default.
40 years later, Baser Amer will tell his grandchildren how he played against Australia 1 vs 5 in a FIBA game ?
— Josh Dela Cruz (@JoshDCcomics) July 2, 2018
— Suji (@damsel006) July 2, 2018
Photographed standing calmly on the sidelines as the fracas broke out, Amer has received praise for maintaining his composure. Boyet Fernandez, his former collegiate coach during his playing days for alma mater San Beda University praised Amer.
“Ever since na-handle ko siya, maganda na naman talaga yung attitude ng bata. Happy ako sa kanya,” Fernandez said in an interview with ABS-CBN news.
June Mar Fajardo
A dominant force in Filipino basketball today, the center from the San Miguel Beermen has been noted not just for his talent and raw power but also his calm demeanor.
Since being drafted in 2012, Fajardo has leapfrogged into the conversation on the greatest Filipino to ever hold a basketball, with four Most Valuable Player, six Best Player of the Conference and two Finals MVP trophies.
— shane louise (@ishanelouise) July 2, 2018
Regularly the victim of rough play on the court, Fajardo in media interviews after the game related that lectures from his parents gave him a composed mindset for his career as a cager.
“Nakita n’yo naman kung anong ginawa ko dun. Tinuruan ako ng parents ko, hindi naman sa lahat ng panahon, kung pwede mo iwasan yung gulo umiwas ka kasi baka pagsisihan mo,” Fajardo reportedly said at a Gilas team dinner.
For some, Fajardo is a role model that even other public figures should strive to emulate.
Junemar Fajardo's Mom's presence made him restrain his temper. Kasi nakakahiya daw sa Mom niya.
Dapat mahiya rin tayo sa mga anak natin pag nakikipagrambulan tayo sa internet nang dahil lang sa pag defend or offend ng divisive President.
Mahiya ka naman sa mga anak mo.
— Gang Capati (@gangbadoy) July 5, 2018
The most tenured among the trio, the 6’5 defensive specialist from the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters has been playing for the national team since 2007, way before it was rebranded into Gilas Pilipinas. He posted his thoughts on Twitter after the game.
Unfortunate series of events that took place tonight. Heat of the battle and emotions won out, but in the end we strive to show the best of who WE are.
— Gabe Norwood (@GNorwood5) July 2, 2018
The 33-year old nine-time PBA all-star has received praise from his loyal fans for conducting himself with the composure expected of a team captain.
The Gilas Pilipinas team captain, Gabe Norwood, really defined the true meaning of calmed, composed and having a class basketball player.
He didn't join to his teamates battling, unless he tried to separate those players.
Salute to this man ? pic.twitter.com/QWUxjtOqTS
— Team Norwood (@TNorwooders) July 2, 2018