Saturday, January 30, 2010

Middle East trip: Part 1

Hello again! It's nice to be writing here again. The past few months have just been so hectic. And thanks to twitter, I can post brief updates from time to time. Two and a half weeks of my first month in 2010 was spent in the Middle East. 4 days in Qatar and 14 days in Dubai.

It was my first time to step on Middle Eastern soil. After traveling for 9 hours, we landed at their international airport at around 5pm (10pm Manila time) and we were welcomed by the Philippine Basketball Association of Qatar. Immediately, we checked in the Retaj Al Rayyan hotel to make it in time for practice at 8pm. I could literally feel my knees and muscles wobbling after the long trip but more so because of the time difference. It was as if we were playing at 1am Manila time.

The hotel was pretty new and quite spacious. Although no free wifi in the rooms, wifi was available for free at the lobby. We would have all our meals in one of the restaurants inside the hotel. Every meal was buffet style, eat-all-you-can. I loved the food there, Persian-Western fusion. We were booked by twos and my roommate was our newest Fil-Am player Marcio Lassiter, who would be my roommate until the end of the entire trip. Marcio played and graduated from Fullerton University in California, which is a NCAA Division 1 school. He plays either position 2 or 3, very athletic player who can handle the ball and shoot from outside. More importantly, he is a hard-nose defender. He blended in quite easily despite being with us for only a month.

The Smart Gilas team was scheduled for back-to-back exhibition games vs the Qatar National team at the Al Gharrafa stadium. Tickets were being sold and to our surprise, the gym was packed with enthusiastic Filipino basketball fans numbering approximately 3000, as compared to about 100 Qatar fans.

The first game was a purely defensive game. Both teams struggled offensively and Smart Gilas came out victorious 46-38. This was the first complete game that Jamal Sampson played for us. He scored only 2 points but grabbed 20 rebounds and changed a lot of shots close to the basket. He was able to neutralize somehow the inside presence of the bulky and athletic big men of Qatar. We were playing without JVee Casio who was nursing some internal injuries that resulted from a dangerous throw-down by Sotto of Alaska in one of our practice games during the holiday season. He would miss the next game as well. RJ Jazul was forced to play the point as backup of Mark Barocca.

In the 2nd game, we lost to Qatar by 8 points in overtime. They came out more physical and aggressive. Their star player #1 scored 24 points and hit 5/5 3 pointers.

It was a wonderful trip to Doha, Qatar to prepare us for the Dubai International tournament. The country has a population of about 1.5M people and approximately 250,000 Filipinos! Amazing! They are extremely wealthy because of their oil and natural gas. Lots of infrastructure and buildings being developed.

Too bad we weren't able to visit any commercial centers or tourist spots because of our very tight schedule. Thanks to all the Qatar-based Pinoys who came to support the team and lost their voices from cheering!! We will see you again in May for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup :)

Soon to follow... our Dubai trip!



Anonymous said...

finally, after a looooonnngggg wait - updated na. haha

good luck chris and all the best for smart gilas. :)

Anonymous said...

hi Chris... at last my bago knang post:)

btw,i'm your #1 fan here in negros and my cuzn April loves you so much!!:)
we always watch your shows po in GMA...lUvit!!.. ang galing nu na po mag host..:)
GOd Bless po always and Goodluck sa game..

aja Chris tiU!!..xOxo


charlene said...

nice to know you enjoyed your stay in Doha. My mom got the chance to take a picture with you in Al retaj lucky bec its just few steps away from home :)

Leigh said...

hi chris..
How are you???
Congratulation Smart Gilas Esp to you
Team Captain Chris....

Gudluck on you next Game...
Keep it up...


bfrances said...

Hi Kuya Chris! Congratulations to you and the Gilas Team! :D It was God's grace that the Filipinos in the Middle East were there to support the Philippine Team. :)

Great job, guys! Soar higher! :)

a bientot,
Ben Francis Rances

angel 17 ^-^ said...

an update finally! :) it's so nice to hear from you again chris!! btw, congrats for winning 3rd place in dubai! we're so proud of the smart gilas team! keep up the good work and god bless you all.. :)

anteros' dominion said...

welcome back and congrats!

Ya said...

Hi Chris!! I was really excited while I was reading your newest post. I did really miss reading your blogs. And especially, I did really miss you [naks!haha].

Congratulations to Smart Gilas by the way. So proud of you guys.Too bad I wasn't able to keep track of your games and all.

ps: It would mean a lot to me if you reply on my comment.hehehe

Anonymous said...

we wish u only shows how we FILIPINOS love BASKETBALL...

Anonymous said...

GODSPEED...We Filipinos are really BASKETBALL enthusiast.--LEL

Anonymous said...

hey! i've been waiting for this latest post you just wrote a while ago. i've read in the papers that you defeated the big guys of Qatar and it was their first loss after something (sorry, i forgot coz it was a couple of weeks ago).. anyway, i hope you can post more while on a trip but the twitter helps. so, g'luck to the team and tell jv to get well soon.. love lots, dida

Mike ^^ said...

Hi Chris!!

Long time no update on your blog.
Anyway, I would like to congratulate you and the whole Gilas Squad for a successful middle east stint. Galing! Talagang you proved your critics that the Developmental Team is no joke and you mean serious business...

Congratulations ulit...Hope the team will grab the Gold in the Asiad.. I started seeing buses in EDSA with the Chinese Basketball National Team printed sa buong bus... Too bad, kahit na may exposure sila dito, tayo naman ang mananalo...hehe

Congrats again and good luck to your upcoming competitions and activities...

Good Luck and God Bless

Mike ^^

weng10282000 (",) said...

hi chris! :)

i've really miss your blog since your so busy within past few months...about your story, it's such a nice and adventurous trip in Qatar with Smart Gilas team...indeed your the BEST TEAM to beat whatever happens.

hopefully, you can update the part 2 of Middle East trip and even on twitter...:)

keep it up the good work and praying for you always. GOD BLESS :)

Anonymous said...

Congratulations again for winning the 3rd place in Dubai tourney. Hope to see more pics of yours during your trip:)

Anonymous said...

Mabuhay Smart Gilas team

Anonymous said...

i like your blog! :-)CAN'T WAIT FOR THE PART TWO....

badlongon said...

after months of waiting,you've finally updated ur blogsite..congratulati0ns for winning the first game..until ur next blog. So long.

andrea said...

Wow the middle east trip sounds like a great time for the Smart Gilas fans, pero how about your North American fans din dito. I hope that your team will be able to see how much your filipino fans dito are very supportive din to all the REAL hard efforts niyo sa team! Thank you sooooo much! ;))

mar said...

Congratz Chris! Congratz Smart Gilas! You made the Filipinos proud. It's great to hear 'bout your middle east trip...can't wait for d next part. Teecee & God bless. =)

Anonymous said...

Hi! Cris, i love you! Nasa sau lahat ang katangian mo: Mahusay sa basketball, Matalino, Mabait at Gwapo. Sana balang araw at i-date mo ako. he..he..

berd said...

wow...what a busy way to start a year...hehe.....Godbless to smart gilas!!!!go go PINOY!!!

Anonymous said...

And it's a sad picture, the final blow hits you
Somebody else gets what you wanted again
You know it's all the same, another time and place
Repeating history and you?re getting sick of it
But I believe in whatever you do
And I'll do anything to see it through
Because these things will change, can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
It's a revolution, the time will come for us to finally win
We'll sing hallelujah!
We'll sing hallelujah! Oh
So we've been outnumbered, raided and now cornered
It's hard to fight when the fight ain't fair
We're getting stronger now from things they never found
They might be bigger but we're faster and never scared
You can walk away and say we don't need this
But there's something in your eyes says we can beat this
'Cause these things will change, can you feel it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back will fall down
It's a revolution, the time will come for us to finally win
We'll sing hallelujah!
We'll sing hallelujah! Oh
Tonight we standed on our knees
To fight for what we worked for all these years
And the battle was long, it's the fight of our lives
Will we stand up champions tonight?
It was the night things changed, can you see it now?
These walls that they put up to hold us back fell down
It's a revolution, throw your hands up, 'cause we never gave in
We'll sing hallelujah!
We sang hallelujah!

>change by taylor swift
>a nice song:)

Anonymous said...

congrats in winning 3rd place. GO Smart Gilas! \m/

melvin said...

nice one captain keep up the good work your such a true leader,more power and Godbless....

from sharjah

Anonymous said...

congratulations to the smart gilas for winning bronze in dubai tournament..
and good luck to your future games..

JL said...

Hi Chris,↲Nice trip to middle east. My friend saw you in a mall in dubai.

Anonymous said...

Hey! When you get the championship in Asian Games this coming November or maybe at least a spot in Olympics. I'm sure the committee will have a ticket for each one of you in the team for a long vacation. By the way, keep up the good games for the fans and never say die. Heads up always guys coz Filipinos around the world will be there to watch your games anywhere and support you. Good luck.

From Dubai said...

Congratulation "CAPTAIN" !!!and to all Smart Gilas Team. Good luck to your up coming. We hope to see you again in Dubai. Sana mag karoon uli kayo ng Games dito s dubai. Good luck again and God Blessed

Kae said...

Hi Captain!

Good to see that you've finally updated. Can't wait for the second part! I'm sure that it would be.. juicier. Haha. I'm kind of excited to read about your personal thoughts on the Dubai games especially the ones vs Jordan, Egypt and Riyadi! I'm sure that entry is going to be EPIC. :D

Wow, Lassiter was your roomate! He was one of my favorites throughout the tournament (aside from you, Mac, JV and Barroca). He was very consistent and he played with a lot of heart. I remember that game versus Champville where he still played during the fourth quarter after his head was stitched because of an injury. Now that's what you call team spirit! Other players would opt to just sit at the bench and let his teammates do all the work, but not Lassiter! He earned a lot of respect from the Pinoy fans after that game. His fans eventually exponentially grew towards the end of the tournament. We are lucky to have such a talented and brave player in our team :)

I already said this but, I'm really, really proud of Gilas! I hope you guys would continue to improve. Do update us also when you already found a replacement for Sampson.

One Big Fight! :)

Gilas Fan said...

Hi, can you please update us when Chris Lutz joins Gilas and how he fits with the team? The fans can't hardly wait for Lutz!

yil said...

finally, an update on your blog!!! i've been waiting for this. i miss reading your beautiful blog.

congratulations for bringing home bronze from dubai. i've heard many good cirtics for you esp your leadership skills during the tourney. nice start for the year though busy one.

i've heard the smart gilas will be very busy this year. dubai tournament was just a start. good luck! God id with you always. bait mo eh. :)

thanks to twitter for your short updates of your whereabouts.

are you still with the fanatxt? i miss your text and mms, too.

can't wait for the next part.

-yil :)

lhoi said...

Finally,,,after the long wait!!!
Congrats to everyone!

Erine said...

Finally!!! a post!!
hmm.... a game series with new teammates.. as far as what i've read on your tweets, the pinoy fans eventually beacame your team's batteries... hehehe...

cant wait for the next post..


jasmine said...

hello kua chris,
I miss ur update but I know u are busy now because of so many games in different countries.Congratulations!!!Keep up the good work
-sori if my grammar is incorrect

lindsey said...

hi atlast chris meron kn bgo post s blog mo any way congratz for wining bronze gling nyo sana next time gold n jejejeje goodluck for ur upcoming game more power to and ur time go for the gold

Trisha Tan said...

Good Luck on your next cometion on may for the " Fiba Asia Champions Cup" . Millions of Gilas fans only wish that GMA 7 could televised all your games even on delayed telecast only.

Is it true that TV5 is trying to pirate you from GMA 7 ?

Aida said...

Hi chris !

May balita na aalis ka na daw sa kapuso network at lilipat ka daw ng TV5 kasi si Mr. Manny Pangilinan daw ang may ari ng channel 5 at malapit ka sa kanya na may ari din ng Smart Gilas team .

Nathalie Sy said...

Sana yung organiser ng mga games nyo maka close deal na ng channel 7 para mapalabas dito sa pilipinas at hindi dokumentaryo lang ang gawin nila tungkol sa gilas .

GMA 7 ...kapuso... magkakasakit sa puso mga gilas fans pag hindi nyo nagawan ng paraan .

Sabria said...

The long wait for a new blog is finally over :)

It's good to hear updates from you again, Chris. Been hearing from the news that Gilas Team is doing a pretty good job. Kudos!

Please keep us posted. And yes, will wait for the part two of your blog, cos I know it will again be worth it. :)

Just a small favor, please post more pictures if you could. Thank you.

Take good care of yourself, Chris.

p.s: Haven't really been able to watch Ripley's and Pinoy Records lately cos I too have been busy. But rest assured, you have my prayers and support always.ΓΌ

ryanne1823 said...

this is a nicetime for gilas you're winning and thats a good thing, means all your hard work sa paid off!!!

Anonymous said...

All of us here in Dubai are waiting for your next blog...
Good luck on your future games...

God bless!

jeffrey said...

kua inapprove mo comment ko yehey. nadon ako nung finals sa uaap nahihiya akong lumapit ehe. kuya gusto ko sana iabot sayo cd ng nirecord ko while playing the piano kaya lang baka hindi mo magustuhan, pero puro zhou jie lun yon, meron nga lng yue ding ska di yi ci. pero kung ayaw mo ok lng nahihiya din nman ako iabot sayo. tenks kuya

sherilyn said...

hi chris,

thanks for the entry..
such a humbling experience...
keep it up..

keep our prayers with you and for the team...

Anonymous said...

Chris I hope you guys saw how the OFW's will support you sana gawin nyo rin silang inspiration sa paglalaro nyo.. Kahit hirap sila sa paghanap ng pera they still watched your games .. Bayani talaga sila.. Kaya sana you can see that you make your kababayans proud when you play hard and fight hard.. ganun din kasi sila kahit mahirap work hard pa rin..

Anonymous said...

Hi! Just want to ask if Smart Gilas is really coming back here in Dubai on March. Thanks :)