July 19, 2024

GUTS AND GLORY | Never say die: Scottie Thompson wasted no time to mount unthinkable comeback

GUTS AND GLORY | Never say die: Scottie Thompson wasted no time to mount unthinkable comeback
Art by Royce Nicdao

Scottie Thompson’s return to active duty with Gilas Pilipinas was a buzzer-beater. After suffering a shooting-hand metacarpal fracture in early July, there were some doubts about his availability for the FIBA World Cup.

The reigning PBA Most Valuable Player, however, refused to be denied this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity as he waited to heal up his hand but pushed himself in other aspects.

From the time of the injury, Thompson tried his very best to be positive. He knew that injuries dampened the spirit of the squad so he smiled through the pain so his teammates could focus on their preparation.

Thompson would laugh it up even more when he went for an x-ray as he and trainer Dex Aseron took a taxi to the nearest hospital in Kaunas, Lithuania. They hopped into the car and were dropped about 100 meters from where they were standing.

The x-ray revealed what they initially feared. It was a fracture that had to be immobilized.

During the next day, Gilas had a tune-up game and Rhenz Abando forgot to take his necklace before checking in. Thompson, being the good teammate that he is, walked up to the young wingman to help him out before realizing he was basically useless in this task with the state of his right hand, generating a chuckle from the rest of the guys.

Thompson has been nothing but positive throughout this entire ordeal and a few weeks ago he was given positive news that the hand was healing on schedule.

“Unang una ‘yung mindset ko talaga nun is to heal and magpakundisyon. ‘Yun talaga ‘yung priority ko sa sarili ko,” Thompson said.

“Wala akong ibang ginawa kundi magpakundisyon. Kahit injured ‘yung kamay ko, puwede naman ako mag-work out pa rin para hindi sayang ‘yung oras. Kasi kung hindi ako gagalaw, mas mahirap humabol sa kanila.”

Even if he was temporarily sidelined, Thompson still chose to look at the silver linings.

“Positive mindset lang. ‘Yung isa siguro sa mga positives nung injury ko is nagkaroon ako ng opportunity to think,” he explained. “Ano pa ba kulang ko, ano pa ba yung dapat kong gawin sa career ko. Nakapag-isip talaga akong maayos. I stayed positive lang kahit ganun yung nangyari.”

Part of the drawback on the injury meant Thompson would not be able to join Gilas in their string of tune-up games in China as he could get more work done at home but he watched all the games and tried to learn as much as he could from a distance.

“Pinanood ko lahat nung games nila kasi gusto kong makita kung may ginagawa silang bago,” he said. “Nung pagbalik ko sa practice, inagahan ko tapos nagtanong ako agad sa mga coaching staff.”

Having his Ginebra head coach Tim Cone and assistant Patrick Partosa certainly helped as they were able to sit down and explain the things he missed in his short absence. In no time, Thompson was back on the floor with Gilas as he saw action against Ivory Coast or Cote D’Ivoire, Montenegro, and Mexico in the team’s last three preparation games.

In those games, Thompson would often touch his previously injured hand while seated on the bench. It’s something that he developed after getting hurt and is still in the process of unlearning.

“Sobrang saya na nakapaglaro na ako pero may doubt pa rin ako nung una kasi kahit anong gawin mo nandun pa rin ‘yung trauma,” admitted Thompson.

“Inisiip ko na lang na kailangan kong ma-overcome kasi once in a lifetime ito. Kailan pa ba ako magkaka-chance maglaro ng World Cup dito sa Pilipinas ‘di ba? ‘Yun na lang ‘yung iniisip ko. Kung makahabol ako, ang laking bagay nito para sa akin. Kanina natamaan lang ng konti, kinakabahan ako. Pero iniisip ko na lang bahala na kasi World Cup ito e. Hindi puwedeng naglalaro akong takot na masaktan.”

Thompson saved his best game for last as he dropped a signature line of 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 5 assists in 23 minutes against Mexico as he looks ready to perform on the grandest stage of basketball.

The past six weeks have been a whirlwind for Thompson but staying ready and the power of positivity enabled him to turn one of the worst moments of his career into a launching pad for a possible FIBA World Cup debut.

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