Guest Post: In defense of Gilas
October 3, 2011 by .:.
Clemelle L. Montallana
Cabucgayan, Biliran Province
We are proud of ‘em.
Smart Gilas-Pilipinas, the developmental basketball team that placed fourth in the FIBA-ASIA Championship, is both lauded and criticized by some sectors . The fourth place finish fell short of a nation’s expectations but it proved at the same time that much could be done to improve the predicament of the basketball situation in our country.
Mr. Recah Trinidad of the Inquirer, called it a “national heartache” or he had gone so far to declare that Smart’s Manuel V. Pangilinan was “ outsmarted” , adding that Gilas was limping and that the team was never worthy of thanks. (Please see Inquirer’s Sports section from September 25 to September 29). Everybody is of course entitled to his opinion and Trinidad could never be faulted for blurting out his emotion on print, he had done it against Manny Pacquaio and Nonito Donaire Jr. in the past and most of us are never surprised with those lines.
But if there are Gilas- cynics, I am one Gilas – romantic. Consider this, the team had nearly got the Stankovic Cup plum, its 2 point loss to the Koreans are similar to that 2-point loss to Lebanon. Jordanian coach Tab Baldwin had lauded Gilas for the outcome of the tournament , he had said that he was more comfortable with playing two-time FIBA- ASIA champs IR-Iran than mixing it up with Gilas. Incidentally , Gilas came –out to beat Jordan overcoming double digits lead in the late period,prior to the Final Four. The Philippines were given a stern reminder that good form can be fleeting in the first half of their game against Syria, falling behind by 10 points. The emotional ‘Smart Gilas’ refocused and unleashed a devastating 52-20 second half to catapult themselves into Friday’s clash with Chinese Taipei.
In case you have not seen it , Chinese- Taipei was soundly beaten by Gilas and Japan even with the presence of sweet shooting Aminoo and the inspirational Matsui (from Slam Dunk fame) was beaten by Gilas . The United Arab Emirates was convincingly subdued by Gilas .
Well, all these is past. The country placed fourth in a richly-evolving platform of asian basketball, I still maintain that it was a close call, a collapse perhaps but they were not limping nor was it an outfoxing maneuver in having Rajko Toroman as the coach. Yeng Guaio could be right in saying that the PBA is the right pool of talents but having young college and fil-am standouts in Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz plus the loyal presence of Japeth Aguilar, Marc Ababbou, Marc Barroca , Mac Barracael was good because of the absence of conflict of interests and time-focus.
The late joining of PBA stars Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams and Ranidel Ocampo obviously strengthen the team notches
Although Asi Taulava had proven over and over again that he was more Filipino than most of us, how many times did he don the nation’s jersey? But if you are criticizing Marcus Douthit, our naturalized former- Laker, you are dead wrong, Douthit brought us a fighting chance with filling gap at center and carrying most of the scoring burden for the team, you could check the box scores at fibaasia.net. And to top it all Douthit was the “ to go guy” at center where fouls are fished-out and he was steady at the charity lane.
If indeed we were not able to get the FIBA ASIA plum it would be consoling to note that this time we have a team
better prepared team for the international tournaments and we have soundly bested several countries who believe that they are capable of barging into the finals. We have a contender in Gilas-Pilipinas and the victories posted were no fluke hard-earned and was really made because we play the four quarters. Unlike other national teams in the past, the
absence of lead in points really makes the game hard to be won. In the first game against Jordan, we were down 11 points and 10 with Syria , in both games we clobber those teams in the last quarters. It was also evident that the defense of the team was notches higher, burly Jordan would resort to unsportsmanlike fouls in frustration of the air-tight walls specially with Lassiter and Lutz late addition as wingmen.
All in all , many of us are proud that we came through with pride after losing two straight but with close games that would go either way. Perhaps , what we have injected in the program is not yet enough to be the best in the continent (the largest in the world) . It could be that we are still in the process of getting some missing pieces that would boost the chance of getting the spot next time. But Smart-Gilas Pilipinas has proven beyond doubt that our country is once again a contender.And it would be ugly to whine and complain on something that we haven’t contributed anything into. To MVP, you have our appreciation and gratitude.
To all Filipinos, we must rally behind the country in international sports. If we are going to be crabby all the time, shouldn’t we renounce our citizenship and apply naturalization somewhere?