Blessed all along (part 3.0 d)

Look at the title, I hate it when I got too much too say and when I got too much to do. They are all converging onto one small bottleneck called my mind. To be honest, I am not sure how long will it take for this chronicle to reach the present time. That is why you lovely readers would see multiple new entries in just 2 days time.

Fast forward again, after the tournament in Bukit Jambul, my school was invited for another competition, another 3 on 3, in SM Sains Dungun, Terengganu. We answered the call, and traveled there using a coaster again and the journey took like 8 hours. But it was a fun filled journey. We used the old road through Grik, Perak and crossed through Kelantan. I really enjoyed the scenery along the road, we saw that big dam in Grik, the rare “Beware of Elephants” signboard, the Kelantanese houses, the majestic South China Sea, the rivers, the lush greeneries. I did not fall asleep at all. As for the competition, my team made it to the quarter final, before the umpire caused my team our defeat. Yup you read it right. The last throw in was supposed to be ours, but the other team just snatched the ball and proceeded with the game and scored the winning point. I ran to the umpire and told him of the mistake but he pretended not to listen. I was fuming but I was in control. We went back empty handed. Cikgu Yusuf told us not to be bothered much by the defeat, he told us that if we were really good, the last throw in should not be an issue. He just wanted us to work harder on our game.

Year 2000, the best year of the 5 years in Saina. There was wind of the PPM to be brought back and that my school would be the host for the northern zone! And it was confirmed later on. Can you imagine the excitement?! After years of yearning for a chance to prove ourselves at the PPM… At last it came and we would go toe to toe with some of the elite schools such as the Malay College of Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) and Sekolah Tunku Abdul Rahman (STAR)! We have had friendlies with other schools but never these two. My father sponsored the jersey for Saina Scorpion and for the coaches too.

D-Day. 1st match was against MCKK. We heard from the other teams that the school had several state players representing Perak for Petronas Non-Chinese team. We were not scared at all, the whole school came down to the court. The spotlight was on us. It was a very awesome atmosphere to hear your name being chanted. It was a fiercely fought match, we were superior when it came to speed, but we lacked the tactics, I was nearly fouled out. Alas we were defeated. I cried because the pressure to win was so immense. “EH buat apa menangis ni, baghu first match”, Cikgu Yusuf comforted me. We bulldozed through the remaining matches and made it to the semi-final.

One thing which gets me everytime I think of the semi final match is the schedule. It was at 12 noon! And the winner would have to play the final match at 3 pm in the evening. 1 match is about 1 hr long plus and minus. So we would have only 2 hours of rest. Who did we go against in the semi-final? STAR. They too had several state players. Early in the match they left us nearly 14 points behind. During time out, our German language teacher, Herr Azhar came up to us and said,”Awat hangpa main ikut tempo depa?!!! Depa main slow, hangpa main laju! Control the game! Jangan bagi depa main slow. Hangpa main laju, tengokla depa takkan boleh kejaq punya!” He was half yelling when he told us that. So we decided to follow what he said. Lo and behold, it was true. We controlled the game and began to chip off the point difference. Fastbreak after fastbreak and we were leading. Few minutes before the game ended, I collected enough fouls to get me off the court. The STAR players jeered me as I walked off the court, but the school supporters chanted my name, well my called name,”Bohoq! Bohoq!”. I didnt feel scared because the point difference was quite big, and all our team needed to do was delay the game till the end. We won. We were super exhausted. Then we heard from one of the teachers that this year, whoever made it to the final would automatically qualify for the National level. I was relieved and super duper happy but I wanted to win the final still. Some of us were crying because we just could not believe it. We were a team nurtured since we were in Form 1. We went through a lot together. We quarreled, we hugged, we cried, we lost and we won. We were a team of brothers who knew our common goal. We were the Saina Scorpions and would always be a Saina Scorpion.

In the final match, my legs could not cope with what my mind wanted to achieve. Half way into the match, I could not jump anymore. My legs refused. I had to crawl off the court and squeeze a palm full of some sort of muscle relief cream. I wanted to play but my body was beaten for the day. In silent I cried. We lost. After the match, all the MCKK players came to our bench and shaked our hands. “Bro, steady bro, recover ye, recover ye”, that was what they said to me.

“See you guys at the Nationals”, I replied.

*****

In preparing for the National level, our school prepared a special diet program for the team. The menu was delish. All the other students would look at us in jealousy as they were enjoying their “Ikan Gorgon” (fish with big and awkward looking bones and very little meat) as I called it while we were enjoying our mushroom soup or chicken soup  or anything which was miles better than the normal daily menu. We were also promised to be coached by a proper basketball coach. Treated like a VIP, ahhh sweet stuff.

The National was 1 month away. The coach was an old Chinese guy. He wanted to teach us the basic tactics. I did not quite agree with him because in 1 month, we would be better off building up our fitness and our speed, which was our main weapon. We have disarrayed a lot of defenses with that. But at the same time, I was curious of the tactics that he wanted to teach us. “We will see how”.

National level. Sekolah Menengah Sains Sultan Mohamad Jiwa, Sungai Petani. We were excited as we saw buses from Tunku Kurshiah, Tun Fatimah, SM Sains Dungun, MCKK and so many more. This was it. The Nationals. The time to determine the best of the best of the SBPs. The event itself was glamorous. Everyday they would print out a magazine containing details of all the teams involved, news from other competitions, quote from winners and so much more. We were celebrities!

The resuts? Not so good. Our fitness was not at a respectable level. We lost 3 games, and won 1. Tactic wise, we sucked too because we did not have the strength to consistently carry out our plans.

The last night, Cikgu Yusuf called us to the dining hall for some pep talk. “Saya sebenaqnya tak harap pun hangpa menang. Saya dah cukup bangga sebab hangpa dapat pi peringkat Kebangsaan. Hangpa ni saya jaga dari Form 1 sampai la ni. Terima kasih banyak-banyak sebab bawak saya kat sini.  Saya nak mintak maaf banyak-banyak la pasai saya tak dapat nak ajaq hangpa banyak. Kalau hangpa ada apa-apa nak cakap, cakap la”, with that he looked at Nanda, our captain. I was choking from the emotion. Nanda too could not say much as there was just too much that we have achieved together which valued much more than this 3-day event. I was only able to thank them for being a part of the team. I could not speak any further because my tears were welling up. I was grateful because at last we were able to be apart of PPM. We would be the talk as the first basketball team that made it into the National level. The pride of the school was everything for me. I was one of the knights who proudly held the glorious banner which whispered promises of victories and respect.

 

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