Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Smart Choice

It's been more than a month since i last posted and so much has happened in so short a time. So many issues. We know of the Japeth, Marc Barocca and Jobe Nkemakolam issues. 2 out of 3 are current teammates in Gilas (although Japeth is unofficial) and 1 was a former Blue Eagle teammate. All of a sudden, Smart Gilas is back in the spotlight. After mutually agreeing that the Smart Gilas team will compete in the upcoming international competitions after the Powerade team's stint in Tianjin, now they want to review the by-laws of the SBP and push for another PBA-backed team. Then, a ban of Japeth to play in the PBA is the works. I'd rather not talk about these issues right now, but rather my experiences being part of the Smart Gilas team for more than half a year now.

We just completed a 2-day trip to Singapore to play against the Singapore Slingers composed of several American and Australian imports coupled with domestic players. We came out victorious by 3 points, could have been more if not for the lapses of the Singaporean referees. But that's always the case if you're playing a home team abroad. Surprisingly, there were more Filipinos than Singaporeans in the crowd. Thanks to al the Pinoys who came to support us!

It was a very short and tiring trip, but very fruitful indeed. Cj Giles, JV Casio, Mac Baracael, Jason Ballesteros, Magi Sison, Mark Barocca, Japeth Aguilar, Fil-Australians Sebastian Salinas and Matt Schmechtig, and myself made up the 10-man lineup. And guess who was assigned to be my roommate, the hottest man on the news Mark Barocca! We had a long and emotional chat. I was being very attentive and open-minded. I could feel his sincerity, disappointment and frustration. He was very open and candid, which made me realize that he was indeed a victim. I gave him a rosary and a St. Josemaria Escriva prayer card from my mom. He thanked me and he took out a St. Jude prayer booklet which he read before going to bed.

Going back to our trip, we arrived in Singapore on Tuesday around 3 in the afternoon. We arrived at our hotel around 330pm starving!! Because apparently you have to pay extra to be served lunch on the budget airline that we took (Oh, and also an additional $20 to be transferred to a bulkhead seat regardless if you're 5'0 or 6'10 like CJ and Japeth). We grabbed a quick bite and went straight to practice from 5 to 7pm. Mind you, it wasn't even a light practice. After dinner at a Chinese tea house, we were given the option to look around the city for a while with a curfew at 12. I stayed in because my body was shutting down. The following morning, we had breakfast all together as always at 9am. Then, at 12nn we went to the gym to shoot around and get familiar with the rim and the balls. Then back to the hotel for lunch and to rest. We left for the game at 6pm. The game lasted from 8 to 10pm. Thankfully we won and because it was CJ Giles' 24th birthday, we were allowed to check out the nightlife in Singapore but with a curfew because we had to leave for the airport at 4am. On our way home to the hotel, we were all getting anxious because if we were a minute late for curfew, we knew we were going to be in deep deep trouble! We made it on time, whew!

That's Coach Rajko Toroman for you. Discipline cannot be compromised. The Singapore trip, just like any other out of town trip, is no vacation. Every day, every hour is like clock work. Everybody eats together for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Like in Jakarta, you would see players from the other Asian countries coming in the dining hall one or two at a time, eating on their own. That's a no no for Coach T. There's no such thing as a day-off. If game time is still in the afternoon, there's always a shoot around session in the morning. Time for rest means no one leaves his hotel room. And if we have time to check out the city, we always go as a group. Reminds me of my college/high school team where everything is so disciplined and 'professional'. It may sound too rigid for some, but ironically, we have lots of fun traveling abroad as a team despite all that. I always look forward to out of town trips.

And that's what i love about this group. We're all about the same age and full of energy. Practices are always intense. Coach T himself is very intense in every single practice, more so during games. Sometimes we fear for his blood pressure. He is never ever late and there's no excuse for being late. He runs the drills himself while the assistant coaches support him, not the other way around like in many professional teams. He is extremely particular with the details and making the right decisions in every play offensively and defensively. He is a perfectionist.

I truly admire Coach T's dedication to the team, reminding me of my former coaches Norman and Sandy. When he took us to Serbia (his hometown) for 2 weeks of exhibition matches last April, he stayed with us in the hotel during our entire stay there despite his residence being just 10 minutes away. Even during our weights sessions, he would sit there for the entire 2 hours while we work out with our strength and conditioning coach. Some other coaches would probably use that time to take care of their other 'rackets'.

We are aware that there has been some resistance from the local basketball community regarding hiring a foreign coach to be the captain of the ship for the national team. Being under him for several months now, i have come to really appreciate the new system and tactical changes that he has introduced. For that and all the other things that i have mentioned earlier, i am truly grateful to be part of this experience, to be under his wing. I sincerely hope that more local coaches can humble themselves and try to learn this new European philosophy that Coach T has adopted rather than being so close-minded thinking that we already know it all. Maybe you're good enough locally, but outside is an entirely different competition. We always want to learn from the US style, but then again we must accept that we are not genetically gifted like them. This is a great opportunity for Philippine basketball to regain its rightful position in the international spectrum.

This is why i believe that i made the smart choice. Actually, i was more of lucky because i finished my collegiate career right at the perfect time while this new program is being developed. God just has His ways. If i had joined the PBA draft, i might have been disillusioned and my passion for the game might not be the same as it is right now. What better feeling it is to be playing the sport you love, traveling around the world, playing intensely with a special bunch of guys, and most importantly, playing for ONE goal - that is the Philippine flag. A goal that is not unique for the Gilas team, but one that is shared by the 90 million Filipinos all over the world.


P.S. Who can ever blame Japeth for making that same decision "to play for country"??


lhen7 said...

Hi Chris

Yeah it's been a month since your last post... It's a good thing you have a twitter account. : ) at least we're still updated, kahit minsan ka lang din mag-tweet.. hehe..

Congratulations to Smart Gilas for winning against the Singapore Slingers... Wow! That's really good news. Great job guys!

On Coach Toroman, I also admire his dedication to RP Team. He did a great job teaching you guys new philosophy in basketball and off course the discipline.

You are so right in saying that you made the "smart choice". I Wanna congratulate you on that. Wala nang mas hihigit pa sa pakiramdam ang makapaglaro at lumaban dala ang bandila ng ating bansa. ^_^ I'm happy for you Chris..

I was touched by your last paragraph. honestly... galing mo talaga, every word of it talagang nakakadala.

God Bless you Chris and the Smart Gilas Team... Go Team Pilipinas!

mike => said...

Hello Chris!!!

Looks like you don't have enough time to kill these past few days that's why it has been quite a while since you last updated your blog.....

Well, the basketball issues here in the Philippines as of now are absolutely nothing less than crazy...

I personally update myself since I am super fan of the sport though I am not in the main circulation; I try to analyze things too...

Dilemma rin naman para sa ibang player ung PBA Draft at ung bagong program ng SBP… Definitely you have to grab the bull by its horns kasi from the looks of it e talagang naiipit ung mga players whether they want to play for pride or play for a living…

Then ung mga issues ng mga collegiate players who are involved in different allegations that really makes things razzle dazzle but it will come a time that all things will be resolved…

Good luck na lang sa National Team sa lahat ng competitions pati na rin sa coming PBA season…
It’s a good thing that you really chose to play for flag and country!!! Keep it up… We’ll support you…Hehe

Btw, are you included dun sa competition in Vietnam? Ang gulo kasi nung nabasa ko…hehe…Good luck na rin sa ADMU, hope they will win again. Sana makausap mo ulit si erica kasi may utang ka daw sa kanya...hehe

Thanks and gbu,

Mike =>

angel 17 ^-^ ♥ said...

Good luck on your Smart Gilas stint Chris! It's been a year since you wore your Blue Eagle jersey! =) you have come a long way since! God Bless..

Ateneo vs UE in the Finals!


michiko said...

very well said chris. good luck to you and the team in your next tournament. take care!

Karla said...



little miss blue eagle♥ said...

wow. congratulations!
the team really deserved it.
we`ll always pray for all of you. :D

ian laput said... and the rest of the guys like Japeth made the right choice in playing for Smart-Gilas. I heard Toroman was not that thrilled with the win in Singapore, he wants to see more improvement in the next games. He sure has high hopes for the team. Well, he saw the potential that's why he's pressuring the team more. hehe. About Barroca, i do hope, he could emotionally get over the accusations thrown at him. He does not deserve it especially coming from his own coach. I'm glad the issue on Jobe is cleared, it's a desperate move to discredit the eagles.
Well, anywei. nice to hear from you again. I like the new format in Pinoy Records. You're very articulate in the Clear Men Future League show. You clearly improve in Ripley's...
Hope to hear more from you... God Bless.

Maan said...

Nice entry, Chris! As a reader, I really felt the passion and the sincerity. :)

Sonia said...

You guys have a great sense of discipline and teamwork. Keep it up. We're very proud of you. :-)

Nica said...

Chris, your story made me really envious! LOL I would love to have a team and a coach like that! You seem to really enjoy your games, practices, etc but at the same time, you and your team are still well-disciplined!

I dont understand why they're making it difficult for Japeth. Actually, he doesnt have to choose. Playing for one's country should always comes first! You know Pat Tillman? He's an American football player who turned down a contract worth $3.6M that was offered to him. He joined the US Army and he was killed by a friendly fire in Afghanistan. Tragic isnt it?

c16_c17 said...

congrats for winning against the singapore slingers!


congrats din dahil for sure champion na naman ang ateneo..

bonfire na naman :)

Erine said...


At last!! A post!!!

Yey!! congrats for the win against the Singaporean Slingers! Good job!!!

Coach T may seem like a disciplinarian to you guys but it really works.. MAs ok na din na para kayong pamilya whenever you go out of the country.. MAs bonded kayo kumpara sa ibang team..

Actually, coach T seemed to think like a Filipino already..He knows that good discipline plus good clan-like relationship works best.. hehehe.. Brownie points for him!

Yep, you really did the right choice.. hehehe... Enjoy the game not for the pride and money but for what your heart desires...


God bless YOu and the Smart Gilas Team(also to Coach T)!!!


Jerick said...

hey kuya chris(my idol)..

thanks for giving us some updates
regarding your Singapore trip..

uhhhmm.. i have nothing to say.. that's all for now.. hahaha..

God bless.. :)

------> John Jerick Orduña

jasmine said...

hello kua chris

congrats po nd congrats rin po s mga ex co player nio s ateneo,once again nkapsok po ulit cla s championship game,sna po cla ulit ung mging champ...

JL said...


yeah!!! it's been to long since you made your last post.

congrat'z to your team and nice trip to Singapore!!!

take care always!!!

MiTch said...

It's been a while Chris!
I guess this is one of your longest blog entry. Anyway, I'm glad to hear that you enjoy very much your stint in RP-Smart Gilas. You really made the right decision. Congrats for beating the Singaporian team. More wins to come for the Smart Gilas team! We're lucky to have a great coach just like coach T.

I just hope after your Smart Gilas stint, you'll consider playing in the PBA too =)

Anonymous said...

huh. . quite long blog ! ! :)

stEpHAnie said...

Elow Chris

A D O R A B L E..

I'm so blessed tO have read Ur bLog cOz it rEally deep and touching. Every word you wrote was captivating senses. I hope U always update it for us your fans to be always inspired by the lessons you taught us.

Congratulations for all the blessings that you always acquire everyday! I hope that you'll always be the same Chris Tiu that we have known eversince.

My only wish lang talaga is to see you play basketball personaly. That's my dream since high school and ngAyon I'm graduating in college na. hEhe, but it has always been my happiness to see you in tv with all your endeavors.

Sana marami ka pang ma.inspire na tao. Hindi mo lang lam kung pano mo nabago ang mga pananaw ko sa buhay. Ive change a lot because I'm inspired with the way U handle Ur life.

Nay God always bless U cHris!! cOntinue pLAying tOugh bAskEtbaLL aNd gUd Luck 2 atEnEo in thE finAls!! I'll pray talaga na mag. back to back kAu!

lieutenant said...

I support and i'm praying for the success of Smart-Gilas Team. Hopefully that this developmental team coach by Mr. Toroman may bring back the glory of basketball for the Philippines in the world...

Kudos to Japeth Aguilar for chosing to be part of the team...


May God bless the Smart-Gilas team...

God Bless the Philippines!

crazypeach said...

Thanks for being back on Blogger!!! seems you are really enjoying the experience. I wish i can have the same experience...being happy while doing something I love. You really did make a smart choice! Thanks for playing for the national team!!! We'll always be here to support you!!! Fighting!!!!!

la_infermerabgale said...

hi chris,

Nice trip to Singapore. Congratulations for winning against singapore slingers. Ateneo blue eagles is still the best and congrats for being still the number 1 in the ranking.

God Bless Chris!

katie ♥ said...

do you remember? september 25 was the day you won the championship.. and that's exactly a year today! =)

keisha said...

ofcourse, playing for the flag is more important. however, "honoring you word" means a lot.

AerOn Capistrano said...

Heya Chris! It's me again.. ^^
Nice blog.. I looove the part wherein you gave Mark Barocca a rosary and a prayer booklet.. Nice gesture! You really are a good man and you truly deserve to be looked up to.. :)

Btw, talo FEU.. hehe.. Pero I'd still watch the game on Sunday.. Siyempre, Ateneo.. ;) Hope to see you there! Nga pala, may little something ako for you nun.. hehe.. :) O siya, see you a! Ingatz lage dude.. God Bless! :)

death_ether_no_more said... saying that in three syllables hehe.

true, it has been a long time since you posted here.buti na lng hnd ako ngchecheck lagi ng blog mo bcoz of busy schedule.
mmm i think i'll save my comment abt the entire blog entry later. my eyes won't read clearly anymore. my eyes are giving up now, forcing me to sleep haha

gute nacht chris tiu.

arrie said...

hello chris!wow you haven't post for a while ha,but it's ok,we know that you are super busy.yep,basketball issues today is getting crazier.issues and controversies shooting everywhere.anyway,its nice to hear that you are enjoying basketball even more.its really nice to have a good are those with wounded knees so just do good and all the sacrifices will be paid later on.God bless!

PeterPan said...

Im glad that your happy with the decisions you made we really do feel that we still have the chance to get back internationally, hopefully this will be it goodluck to you and the rest of the team

please advise Mark to show what he really has we all dont believe with accusations on him.

micot said...

Good Day!
Its good to know that you support Marc Barroca and Japeth Aguilar, I know it means a lot to them knowing that against the odds there are people like you who knows when to listen and when to start.

About your stint in Singapore, I know that winner or losser you (the Smart Gilas team) are already winners in our hearts!Congratulations!

Its good that you share your insights about Coach "Toroman". Because I know a lot of people like me wondering what kind of person especially what kind of coach he is. And base on your write ups I could say that he cares for the team like any "Filipino coach" would do.

Thank you for still updating this blog site despite lapses. I do follow you in twitter too! (hehe)

God bless always!

Anonymous said...

beautiful! you really pour your hearts out in this blog entry of yours.

Godspeed Chris and the Smart-Gilas team.

Make our country proud!

weng10282000 (",) said...

Hi Chris!!! :)

I've been really missed you so much on reading your blog because of my busy working scheds. Now, it's time to comment about you.

I like your new entry coz it's really nice and interesting.
Thanks for sharing your story about your experiences with the
Smart Gilas RP team. I think that an important goal is to achieve glory, honor and success that Filipinos make us proud of. Because of good basketball player, TV host, businessman, achiever and leader, you've really made a SMART CHOICE, Chris.

Keep it up and GOD BLESS YOU ALWAYS... :)

P.S.: BTW, goodluck to Ateneo Blue Eagles for the championship game
against UE. That was a beautiful game indeed. I hope that the team will bring back-to-back champions. Keep your fingers crossed. Soar high, ADMU!!! And also, the Smart Gilas RP team as guest team for the PBA All-Filipino Cup... :)

simplegal said...

Hello Chris,
Thanks for posting..:) Congratulations pala for your win. Inuna ko talagang hanapin yung name mo sa stat box..haha..Anyway,just wanna let u know that I was inspired more when you shared your experience with Andy Mark. I knew it, Coach T arranged that for you coz he knows you'd really be a listening ear..:D

Have you seen the article from a Singaporean news? You may visit my blog to take a peek of it..:D
People should really read your blog to know you more even a little. They really can't blame me for liking you.haha.Fan much?

Thanks for sharing some tidbits of your life with us. We too will never get tired to be your "listening ears" and "reading eyes". hehe..Until then! Keep safe! Ciao!


yil said...

hi Chris!

Yes!!! Finally an update from you after almost a month. :) So far, this is my only way of being updated about your whereabouts, aside Fanatxt and Twitter. But you also seldom tweet and text. (well i have to suffer to not watch tv during my review...huhuhu)

Well, i want to congratulate you first for making the "smart choice." That's the result of thinking first before deciding. Plus, of course, PRAYER. That's just one of the things why I love TIU most. I'm so happy for you.

On Coach Toroman, HE'S THE MAN!!! Must be rigid working with him but that's just the right thing. See, you've just won against the Slingers. CONGRATULATIONS, SMART GILAS!!!

If Philippines wants to be globally competetive, then we must benchmark the best practices of other foreign countries. There's nothing wrong with having an "alien" coach. Maybe this is rude to say, but i think Coach T is much better than our resident coaches.

Much of Coach T. It was really nice and holy of you to give Marc all those stuffs(another reason why i love TIU). That's just what he need. This must be a hard time for him. Hope he can cope up.

I can't wait to witness the Blue Eagles to retain the UAAP championship title. Animo Ateneo!

My sympathy and prayers for all the victims of typhoon. Hope we can all "make it through the rain."

yil :)

P.S. Like what you've said, "God just has His ways."

Dawna said...
I just love this commercial of yours with the volleyball princess, rachel Anne Daquis.

sherilyn said...

hi chris,

I'm happy for you....
I just wish that I can watch your games...because we don't have cable connection..:)

anyway...Your new milo tvc is soooo cool...with jv casio...

God bless you on your future undertakings...

yanne said...

congratulations to smart gilas!
keep it up!

may God be with you always..
take care :)

Anonymous said...

You're last post was more than a a month ago, i'm checking if you have updates for us, especially your commercial for milo w/ jv casio...
I feel bad for Japeth, he just wanted to play for our country's pride but then they want to ban him because they wanted him to play in the pba first, i think that's unfair for him, he's a good player so i think they should consider his case...

JCS said...

Hi Chris!

It is truly an enjoyable experience reading your post! I hope you continue to find time to write amidst your busy sched.I also learn & get inspired by your blogs.

I'm a Big FEU fan & of course ADMU din.....hehehe. I like what you wrote about Andy or Mark B. A lot of us feel the same way, I truly appreciate how you listened to him with an open mind and encouraged him to pray.

I admire coach Toroman all the more by what you shared.....esp having meals together as a team & instilling discipline & hardwork.

It was indeed a "smart choice" to play for the country!

God Bless You & the Smart Gilas Team!


P.S. saw you a couple of times @ the UAAP Games.....hope ADMU wins!

Ling said...

Una muna ang country! that's how i perceived japeth's decision!

angelica said...

i was watching last sunday's episode of clear as soooo funny...
you guys showed the funny guys behind that intense basketball reality show. i was disappointed the nazarenos were eliminated...
well then its not the end of them

Jessa Marie Balbona said...

Ang humble mo pare!! hehehe :) kya idol kita eh. Yung kay mark barocca sayang tlga yun. meh chance pa sana kmi mg champion kung di nila tinanggal, pinagbintangan p naman! :( super sayang to our part. Congrats pla sa win nyo over POWERADE. Galing!!!!!!! tinalo nyo sila?? WOW talga. congrats din to Ateneo for being back to back champs!!:)

Jessa Marie Balbona said...

idol, kuya chris tiu!!:) comment ka naman sa blog ko!! i know you're super busy pero i just wanna hear from you!! super idol kc kita!!:D


I believe that mark is a victim

kawawa kaya xa

being punished?...

regardless of all the efforts he had made for the team

Anonymous said...

hi chris! this is rhea! thanks for sharing :)

i now understand the decision of japeth, barroca..ders a reason for that as always!

anyhow, its for the country that's why they will play for gilas! gudluck ah! hope to see yah sa pba very soon as a pba player nah not as an rp gilas player ;)

God Bless! mwah mwah :)

Ya said...

Hi.. I guess this message is a little late already. But i can really feel your passion for basketball while i was reading your post. God indeed planned it for you! And i can see you're really passionate for your team and the country.

But I am just wondering. If you would allow me to ask. Do you have plans of joining PBA after Smart Gilas?

sabria said...

Hey, Chris. Belated Merry Christmas and Advanced Happy New Year to you and to your family. :)

Haven't heard from you in quite a long time already huh. No new blogs and/or fan-a-txt updates. What's up? What have you been busy with?

I apologize for not having been able to watch Pinoy Records and Ripley's cos I too have been busy.

I miss you, we all do, that's for sure. Hope to hear from you really soon.

May we all have a prosperous and peaceful 2010. Keep soaring, King Eagle! :)