That’s it, after five games, five exciting games we close our campaign with a roar, a loud one at that. After giving powerhouse teams such as Croatia, Greece, Argentina and Puerto Rico the scare of their lives, we finally found the much needed win together with the admiration of the international press covering the FIBA World Cup or FIBA World Championship. Amidst the disappointment of coming up short against the powerhouse teams losing by 3 to Croatia, 12 to Greece, 4 to Argentina, and 4 to Puerto Rico, Gilas Pilipinas found enough confidence, found enough heart to pull off a shocker against Senegal (who last appeared in the FIBA World in 2006).
The journey has been long and hard for the team and the supporters, like me. We have to endure painful defeat and disappointments in Asia and BAP sending crappy teams to FIBA Asia Championship in the past. Last year though was redemption, though we failed to win the gold in FIBA Asia Championship falling to the Asian powerhouse Hamed Haddadi and Iran, we somehow captured the “Golden Silver” and booked a ticket to this year’s World Cup of Basketball. It’s been 36 long years since we last made it and we have to wait 40 years to book our first win in the said tournament, heck being in the World Cup itself is already a feat or better yet a big achievement to our national team or the basketball program in general.
Yes our dream of possibly advancing to the other stage of the tournament may have ended but the admiration from all over the worldwide basketball community will always be there. Our boys captivated the hearts and minds of the basketball loving world, even to the point that an ESPN analyst even said that “we’re the most fun team to watch in the tournament”. Tweets all over the world came in droves praising or maybe giving respect to Gilas especially in that heartbreaking loss to Argentina. The International Commentators (who I forgot the names, one of them is a coach) share their admiration to our boys. If the foreign basketball community were proud of our showing in the World Stage it saddens me that some of our countrymen don’t share the same admiration and respect. I know you can’t please all of them but the realization that our boys fought hard, sacrificed and bled for pride and country should be enough to garner respect.
Finally, I just want to say, with this showing, scaring the crap out powerhouse nations Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico. Putting up one hell of a fight against the mighty Hellas from Greece and of course finally winning one against veteran team in Senegal, basketball has a bright future in our country. Gutsy performances from Gabe Norwood (those highlight reel moments dunking in front of Scola and Mata), our Naturalized player in Andrey Blatche, Jeff Chan (almost our hero in the Croatia game), Junemar Fajardo (who came up with the game of his life against Senegal), LA Tenorio, Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, Japeth Aguilar, Gary David, Ranidel De Ocampo, Paul Lee and of course our Captain (Philippines) Jimmy Alapag will be looked at by our future basketball stars in Arnold Van Opstal, Jeron Teng, Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Kevin Alas, Greg Slaughter, Gelo Alolino, Baser Amer, Garvo Lanete, Chris Banchero, Ian Sanggalang, Calvin Abueva, Raymond Almazan, Mike Reyes to mention a few. To Coach Chot Reyes, please stay as coach, having you replaced will delay the program two more years (at least). To Marcus Douhtit, Larry Fonacier and the Gilas pool/cadets, batang Gilas, and staff and of course to the PBF and MVP our big thanks! #LabanPilipinas #puso
Shout out to Azkals fans out there #SugodAzkals win the Friendship Cup!
Pictures: From the FIBA website