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See You in Spain! Gilas Team Wins Silver in FIBA to Qualify for World Basketball Championship

After decades of battling for one of the top spots in FIBA Asia, the Philippines has finally grabbed sliver medal finish behind the tall and mighty Iran thus qualifying for next year’s World Basketball Championship to be held in Spain.

Gilas 2.0

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Yes the tournament was already finished last week but the adrenalin rush and hangover by everyone here of that sweet victory in the semifinal match against rival South Korea was still there. FYI, South Korea has been the biggest thorn in the Philippines for the past tournaments, winning against them in a heartbreak fashion, be it the most important games or just for the placing. The win provided a sure spot at the 2014 World Basketball Championship, which will have the top 3 Asian countries qualified.

It’s a gallant stand by the team known as the Smart Gilas Pilipinas 2.0, composed of professional players in the PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) with a naturalized player. They showed real teamwork and most importantly played with a BIG HEART, something that lacked with the previous all-pro selection teams.

With some players having some off nights, others stepped up, like a soldier backing up his comrade who’s down on the battlefield. The games on each rounds were hardly fought and won, and the team is likely destined to write their history. Aside from their great games played, it helped that China was having its worst season, losing in the early rounds to South Korea and Iran and Chinese Taipei in the quarterfinals. A sudden twist of faith because while they were having
lackluster performance, team Philippines got better and better.

And it seemed that everything’s going in favor of the Philippines because before the start of the tournament, Lebanon, which is considered among the top teams and could be a contender for the top spot on the next phase, was out. Another was when Qatar won against Chinese Taipei (the team who beat Gilas in the first round) by a close margin, that put everything in place. Gilas got the top spot because of higher quotient and avoided an early clash with the Persians.

Redemption has it for this team as they surpassed what the Gilas 1, composed mostly of standouts in the amateur ranks mixed with some pros, performed during the last tournament. Gilas 1 lost steam and only finished 4th place.

With the venue happening in the home turf, the hometown crowd filled the MOA Areana to cheer and back-up the players for some needed inspiration. When the team won in the semi-finals, it was like winning the crown already as the team achieved its ultimate goal – to qualify for the World Championships. As what I observed, if the team lost the semis, then the dream is over, there’s a big chance they would lose in the 3rd place game as history showed with the past teams that they always lose steam and with Douthit out, they would be in big trouble again against the Taiwanese.

The finals game could have gone either way, but with Marcus Douthit sitting out due to injury, the team lost a formidable big man who could defend against Iran’s center Hamed Haddadi, a legit NBA player, who was named MVP of the tournament.

Adding the celebration was point guard Jason “The Blur” William Castro’s inclusion in the All-Star Mythical Five.

On winning the silver medal and getting qualified, being big basketball fanatics by the people here have not gone to waste because in my opinion, what’s the point of making this game an almost national sports and everyone’s passion if you can’t even qualify for the World or Olympics? At least the guys showed that the team, despite not having a tall lineup, belongs to the elite class. Talent, teamwork and a lot of heart in the game have brought them back to the map.. Welcome Spain! See you there!

Smart Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 are

1. Marcus Douthit
2. Jimmy Alapag
3. Jayson Castro
4. Ranidel De Ocampo
5. Larry Fonacier
6. Jeff Chan
7. Gabe Norwood
8. LA Tenorio
9. Japeth Aguilar
10. Gary David
11. Marc Pingris
12. June Mar Fajardo

Reserve player – Beau Belga

Coach – Chot Reyes
Assistant Coaches: Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Josh Reyes

Watch the highlights of the semifinal grudge match between team Philippines and South Korea.

basketball PBA travel

A Come from Behind Win

From music, let’s go to the game of basketball. It’s one of the things I missed and watching the game live was a pleasure. I was a big fan of the game and since my heroes retired, I haven’t attentively watched the local games on tv and been on a live game for more than ten years. I didn’t even know most of the players on the roster of each team and even the names of the current participating ball clubs. So this was my first stint of watching pro-basketball live!


On the first game, I saw Redbull going up against Powerade which surprisingly the latter won in a lopsided game. “Surprisingly” because the former’s lineup includes former San Mig bigmen Danny Seigle, Pena, Pennisi, Willie Miller, Salvacion, etc. Powerade’s young guns came through with former Smart Gilas Lassiter topscoring for the team but it was Anthony who led them to victory and was chosen best player of the game.


Haven’t seen both play before but after this game, I would say that they’re good. They are the players to watch for the opposing teams. Just couldn’t get over Anthony’s way of shooting the ball on the freethrow. His release reminded me of the way Jimmy Chitwood (from the film Hoosiers) shot the ball, very methodical and effective.
Hope the new breed of players would practice good form of shooting, perhaps they should imitate the way the South Koreans shoot hehe.



The second game featured Petron Blaze against Talk n’ text. The much awaited game by the fans. So San Miguel is now known as Petron while Tnt, well, didn’t change the name. First half was all Petron, leading all the way and Tnt’s game seemed off-sink as they can’t find a good basket. Everything seemed to be doing well for the SMC franchise as they head on to the locker room with a comfortable lead.


Start of the 3rd quarter, TnT inched their way to close the gap as Petron relaxed. Suddenly the game went close and MVP’s team took the 3rd.


The 4th was a see-saw battle, Petron leading then it’s Tnt’s turn. The game was close, with Petron struggling to score a basket as opposed to Tnt. The fortunes have turned on the 2nd half, and as they went to the last minute, the game got better. Petron fans got so loud everytime they hit the basket, and as the clock winding down, it was crunch time for both teams. Alex Cabagnot hit a clutch three with only 12 ticks left, sealing the lead for Petron and on the verge of winning. Fans went wild and the players celebrated, but they forgot that there was still time left, and TnT capitalized it. Carry got fouled and hit only 1 out of 2 freethrows. Petron could have won it, if they got the “rebound”, luckily for Tnt, coach fielded in Japeth Aguilar, a 6’9″ guy who can jump high, at the right time and as Carry missed the 2nd attempt, he went high for the ball for a put-back beating all the other guys. And One! He sank the freethrow and they got a 2 point lead. Petron didn’t score on the next possession as Japeth stole the ball and time expired. TnT won in a come from behind victory!


Seeing the new players on the second game, I’ve got to give two thumbs up for Rob Reyes’ solid defense. Though he’s not very good offensively, the burly mohawk guy was everywhere when it came to rebounding and hassle plays. Reminded me of Freddie Abuda in the late 90s, scrappy player who did the dirty work inside the hardcourt. I think his style would fit well also on Ginebra hehe. There’s Yeo whom they called the Ninja. I would agree on that moniker. He’s quick, not afraid to drive straight to the basket and would explode unexpectedly. Weinsten however, may be a bit deceiving if you’re a defender and didn’t know his game. You would think that he can’t score but he can. He hit big baskets late in the game and it kinda killed the momentum of Petron.


Got a lesson learned from it and kids should bare this in mind. Don’t celebrate yet until you hear the final buzzer! It has happened many times before, and it happened again. You see in a very close game, taking a lead in the dying seconds doesn’t mean you already won it, you have to defend well against the opponent and still not let them score. as they say, it ain’t over yet.


So for the first trip to see a live game, the experience was exhilarating!!! And what makes it even better? Aside from the game which was so freakin’intense, the crowd was awesome, free ticket courtesy of my buddy and got the best seat for some reasons: 1. it was near the hardcourt, 2. was just a few steps behind commentators Mico Halili and Jason Webb, 3. pretty faces surrounding the area especially the one beside me, whew, 4. even got a cameo appearance late in the game! Yeah boy!!!



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