GILAS PILIPINAS: GOLDEN YEARS THAT BROUGHT RISE TO PHILIPPINE BASKETBALL
Gilas has been and hopefully will be the figure of the Philippine basketball soaring to greater heights on the international stage. The sport has become a source of national pride for the country and Gilas has proven it more than once. With basketball being the prominent sport in the country, Gilas’ transition had grown within us within years and screaming ‘puso’ is one hell of a euphoric feeling of being a Filipino.
Either in their triumphs and failures, Filipinos had their back since day one. With numerous matches performed by Gilas, it is without a doubt that nothing has ever united Filipinos more than supporting our very own athletes on the hardcourt. Now, let us take a look back on the stellar victories that made us Filipinos jump and scream at the edge of our seats.
End of Korean Curse
The entire country had definitely trembled in this match as it was a victory like no other for the Filipinos who witnessed Gilas ending the curse of Korea.
It was when the national team played in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship which was hosted by the country. Gilas lost to Chinese Taipei in the last game of the preliminary round to finish second. With that, the team crawled for four consecutive wins to secure a faceoff against the long-time tormentor, South Korea.
With Chot Reyes as chief tactician, he pulled a historic win ending the Philippines’ long basketball nightmare against South Korea, 86-79, to enter the Fiba World Cup in 2014 after 36 long years. It was one of the most emotional games for Gilas as Chot Reyes said in that time, “Iyakin talaga yan e.”
The win not only ended the curse but removed the weight the country has been carrying through the years.
First-ever Victory at World Cup in over 40 years
After the momentous win against the South Koreans at the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship, Gilas had entered the much-awaited FIBA World Cup in 2014 in Spain after a 36-year absence.
With naturalized Andray Blatche in tow, the Philippine-representatives put up a great fight with near-win matches against higher-ranked teams of Croatia, Greece, Argentina, and Puerto Rico.
Chot Reyes vividly remembered the win the Gilas had put up. Although the country had finished seventh, it was a notable win for the country as it merely took up about 40 years to nab a win in the World Cup.
“We showed in the whole tournament that we belong and that we can compete, and tonight we showed that we can win. I’m not making excuses, but we really lack the experience to win at this level. But hopefully, this leads to bigger things for Philippine basketball,” Reyes said on their win against Senegal.
Notable Wins Under Tab Baldwin
A new reform was set under the guidance of Tab Baldwin which was declared as the new coach of the Philippine national team on December 23, 2014. Baldwin started from scratch with some conflicts held during his regime but managed to pull out wins and more importantly growth for our Gilas.
During his time, Gilas competed in the 2015 William Jones Cup and grabbed the silver medal. In the tournament, Gilas picked up inspired wins which included battles against Russia and a come-from-behind overtime thriller against New Zealand.
In the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, it saw the Philippines with intense training scrimmages and endless repetitions of plays and defensive sets. Baldwin prepared Gilas so well that they have pulled a signature win against the Iranians which had their mainstays Samad Nikkah Bahrami and Hamed Haddadi. But later on, lost to France and New Zealand which resulted in losing their bid in the Rio Olympics.
Recent Wins under New Generation Ballers
In the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, the new era of Gilas Pilipinas composed of an all-cadet team showed dominance following a 32-point blowout win in their first match against Thailand last November 27, 2020 and a 24-point deficit in their second match-up last November 30, 2020.
Led by coach Jong Uichico, he has been able to build a formidable young lineup who went toe-to-toe in the bloody battle wherein a number of players stood out for the team namely Dwight Ramos, Justine Baltazar, Juan and Javi Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, Mike Nieto, and Calvin Oftana.
The all cadet team will be added by naturalized player Angelo Kouame and teen wunderkind Kai Sotto which fans have been urging to see.
With the pandemic ongoing, there were a lot of postponements of the league. But Gilas Pilipinas had been in a lot of training sessions and we could not wait to see them back in the court once again.
Many Filipinos have their own favorite and not so favorable moments of Gilas but one thing is for sure that many are looking forward to an ecstatic memory that will be inked in our hearts—an astonishing moment of Pinoy pride.