Sunday, October 04, 2015

No Matter What, Gilas Pilipinas Has My Respect and Appreciation

The run of the Philippines men’s basketball national team, Smart Gilas Pilipinas, during the 2016 FIBA Asia Championships was impressive and stirring.  However, in their Finals match against China (which, to be fair, is a much improved team than that of the previous years), they were victimized by pre-game bullying tactics and blatantly biased officiating from the referees.  Unable to overcome these unfair handicaps, they lost the gold medal game to the Chinese.

Like every Filipino, I was…

To borrow a quote that the celebrated Sen. Miriam Defensor Santiago ranted years ago, I was “irate, furious, ballistic, fuming, foaming at the mouth, hitting the roof, homicidal.”  I was that mad.

And I think I have good reasons to be pissed and bitter about it:
  • I was already expecting China to use dirty tactics.  This is, after all, a country that has the reputation of bullying and ripping off.  And there were already hints about this earlier in the tournament.  Iran even claimed they experienced the same thing during their semis match.  Still, knowing all of these didn’t really prepare me in witnessing such appalling display. 
  • I was really hoping that despite all of China’s villainy, Gilas would overcome the odds.  I fantasized of seeing a “storybook ending” coming out of it.  Like what happen in all those movies that have underdog protagonists.  That, no matter what, good will always triumph over evil.  Thus, when that didn’t happen, my romantic idealism took a hard blow. 
  • I’m tired of China’s bullying and insolence of Philippine sovereignty through the years.  And since the Philippines is a weak country, we really can’t do anything about it whenever China offends us or take our territories.  So I was hoping that, at least, in this important basketball game, we’ll be able to have the satisfaction of somewhat getting back at China after its years of atrocity against us.  It would have been a sweet cathartic release of all our pent-up aggravations against that country.  But (sigh), we’ll have to wait for some other circumstance where we can finally have that. 
  • The gold wasn’t the only thing at stake, but an outright Olympic berth as well.  It wouldn’t have been this much frustrating if the second placer also qualifies for the next major tournament – like back in 2013, which allowed Gilas to qualify for the FIBA World Cup.  Thus, because of this aspect, a silver medal finish is just isn’t enough for me.

Sure, the Gilas Pilipinas could have been mentally tougher, played grittier, and shot better in that Finals game.  I was hoping that they would have scored so much points that any amount of “cooking” on China’s part won’t matter anymore.  But requiring something superhuman of them is also isn’t fair.  And for that, I have nothing but high appreciation and respect for this Gilas team which gave its all despite the circumstance.

This so-called “Gilas 3.0” (meaning the third incarnation of Gilas) is said by doubters as the weakest among Gilas versions.  But they are definitely proven wrong.  This team is actually more impressive in this tournament than the Gilas team that fought in the World Cup.  A second-place finish – and China has to resort to dirty tactics to send them there – is no small feat.  

I salute you, Gilas Pilipinas 3.0.
Despite the heartbreaking outcome of the FIBA Asia Championship, Gilas Pilipinas has shown that “puso” is the real deal.  Thus, I choose to be optimistic about the future.  The Philippines still have a shot next year – in the 2016 FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament – to qualify for the Olympics.  I’m looking forward to it.    

Gilas Pilipinas will bounce back.  

Onwards. #PUSO #LabanPilipinas

No comments: