Philippines, 29 Feb 2024
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The music, the dream die for Gilas

THE great heart, the great talent have all gone to waste for the Gilas Pilipinas national basketball team.

A full twenty-fours after young Terence Romeo was celebrated and cheered as he tip-toed, zig-zagged, and winged hot past stunned foreign defenders, the colorful national team star was stuck cold on the hardcourt, trying to thwart catcalls from many disappointed Filipino fans.

He would beg those who doubted them??yung mga nag-duda sa amin??to just be proud of what the Gilas team had done.


Sorry, but the lavishly funded Gilas national basketball team went flat out in its first two games, against France and New Zealand, to promptly drop its dream of making it to the Rio Summer Olympics next month.

Gilas Pilipinas did fan hopes with its respectable stand against France. The team however delivered a national heartache following its loss to New Zealand, a day after President Duterte was gleefully acclaimed by a fullhouse crowd at the Mall of Asia, where he made the inaugural toss for the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

In Mr. Duterte?s case, he definitely got the ovation after readily delivering on his promise of genuine change, boldly linking several police generals to the multi-billion-peso illegal drug trade, while pushing with gun powder and iron fist the furious nationwide chase after drug pushers and addicts.


On the other hand, the Gilas team?s performance in the Manila OQT would cause widespread disappointment. For the record the Gilas national national squad was readily rated a long shot after it was bracketed with powerhouse France, seeded 5th in the world, and New Zealand. However, after a sensational losing stand against France on opening day, a performance which drew raves from NBA legend Tony Parker himself, big expectations spread through national basketball scenery.

There were also stronger possibilities for Gilas against lower-ranked New Zealand, all for the fact that national coach Tad Baldwin supposedly knew the opposing team like the back of his palm.


The unexpected happened against New Zealand, and everybody was aghast. Gilas sputtered from tip-off, tried to catch up, and was left huffing and puffing by the taller, stronger, sharper Big Blacks.

Questions predictably got raised, but what clearly surfaced was the Gilas team?s lack of cohesion and depth.

For his part, coach Baldwin would blame the setback on short preparation and lack of enough foreign competitions.


There were other objective observations:

?As long as our team gets together only in such short a time before a major competition, we must all be prepared for another disappointment,? explained former national contingent chief statistician Joseph Dumuk. ?As I kept saying, lavish micro-management would all be wasted if the team does not get enough time to compete together.?

Dumuk added that Gilas, inferior as it was in height and manpower, was hopelessly deficient in maturity and cohesion.


?Gilas never had a shot from the start,? noted veteran sportswriter Percy Della, who does a weekly column for the Inquirer. ?Manny V. Pangilinan was just wasting his money. We don?t have the players to succeed in high-level international competitions. Period.?

After the music and the dream have died for the Gilas national team comes a strong call for all those involved to rethink the national basketball development program.

?They can disband Gilas and form a new team, but what we need here is a strong base, a sound national basketball development program,? said Councilor Louie Espinosa of Mandaluyong City. ?Hindi ?yung pulot nang pulot maski saan.?

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Recah Trinidad.

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