HANGZHOU—“It’s worth a thousand golds!”

8 October 2023

HANGZHOU—“It’s worth a thousand golds!”

Philippine Olympic Committee (POC) president Rep. Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino told Filipino reporters the morning after the Philippines—through its men’s basketball team now popularly called Gilas Pilipinas—won the Asian Games gold medal that took 61 years to accomplish but needed only two weeks to process.

Add in head coach Tim Cone putting together his own version a Navy Seal Team 6 when, just under a month ago, a crew of special forces couldn’t get a modest job done back in Manila in the FIBA 2023 World Cup.

“It’s God’s will, prayers answered,” said Tolentino, who broke tradition by traveling to the luxurious Media Village inside the sprawling Asian Games Village to assemble a press conference.

“But that’s actually five gold medals won all in all, counting Eumir’s [Felix Marcial] silver,” he added.

Marcial settled for silver in his first foray in boxing’s light heavyweight division, a heavier category to the middleweight class where he clinched bronze in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics two years ago.

Tolentino stayed virtually mum after Ernest John “EJ” Obiena expectedly won the men’s pole vault title in an Asian Games record 5.90 meters for the country’s first gold medal in these games host China has dominated from the very beginning.

The target was to hit four golds to match the haul in Jakarta and Palembang four years ago.

But the bullseye became a blur in the distance when Margielyn Didal limped to a DNF in skateboarding and an “underwomanned” golf team of Rianne Malixi and Lois Kaye Go couldn’t be on a par with the pros who are now allowed to play in the Asian Games.

“There are more chances, let’s see,” Tolentino said at that time, when the games were some 10 days old.

Then came that mini, mini streak in jiu-jitsu. Fluish and stuffed with colds medicine, Meggie Ochoa struck gold to validate her two world championships crowns and Annie Ramirez followed suit to make it 3-2-12 (gold-silver-bronze) for the Philippines at the bottom half but close to the median of the medal tally board.

The came a 24-hour wait for that Philippines-Jordan men’s basketball gold medal match—Gilas 70, Jordan 60.

Bang! It was a “shot heard around the continent” and most glaringly, the entire Philippines.
The Asian Games men’s basketball gold medal is coming home again to Manila after more than six decades.

“After 61 years … Thank you Lord, we proved once again that the Philippines is the No. 1 in Asia,” Tolentino said.

End it…end it