Monday, April 25, 2011

Gilas Pilipinas in the PBA

It's always difficult to sleep after losing a game because of all these random thoughts and undesirable memories of the game, more so being eliminated from a possible finals appearance. And since many of you requested, I decided to just blog.

First, I'd like to thank all those who shared their very positive comments on my previous blog entry entitled 'A Moment of Conversion'. It's been a while since i received so many comments, partly I guess because most chose to send me a message through twitter. It would be great if you can post your comments through this blogspot so that others may read them as well. This can be part of your apostolate :)

Now , let's move on to basketball... (Warning: Do not continue reading if you are not a Gilas, Ginebra or Philippine basketball fan)

I never thought I would again feel the similar pain from a loss experienced during my UAAP days playing for Ateneo, but apparently I am wrong. The 3 most painful defeats in my post-college career with the National Team Gilas Pilipinas are the 2010 Dubai International (losing to Lebanon in the semis), 2010 Asian Games (bowing out in the quarters to Korea) and to my surprise , this 2011 PBA Commissioners Cup (to Ginebra in Game 4).

I'm sure many of you might be surprised as well, thinking that Gilas is only a guest team in the tournament and this is only a domestic commercial tournament. True... but I guess the primary reason is because we wanted to win so bad and we knew we could have done so if we played better and more consistently down the stretch, especially in the semis. And for me personally, I may never get another chance to win a PBA Championship.

Why did we want to win so bad? Of course there's always that competitive spirit in us to be the best team out there. But really, we wanted to earn the support and approval of the entire basketball community and Filipino basketball fans that Gilas is worthy indeed to represent our country in the FIBA tournaments. Actually, some experts tell us that we've overachieved already, but honestly, I beg to disagree because I know what the team is really capable of doing.

We had a great run in the eliminations , with a record of 7-2 , finishing top 2 and earning the outright semis berth. Both losses were in overtime and lacking in manpower. 1 more win could have changed the story, but that's done.

Semifinals vs Ginebra

Unfortunately in the semis, we had to face a very formidable team with a good mix of veteran superstars, solid role players, an excellent import and a smart coaching staff. Not to mention that they have the biggest, most loyal set of supporters and that's where they draw their strength from. It was a very physical and rough series, no question. They made sure that we knew who the real veterans were inside the court. Their coaching staff knew exactly what they wanted to do, stay home with the wingmen and risk the outside shots from our big men. But anyway, I don't want to talk about the technical aspects too much. Who knows, we might face them again.

I haven't watched the replay of Game 4, but I remember we played well and had control of the game for around 27 minutes and led by as much as 15 points. Then all of a sudden, we didn't know what hit us. Poor defense, execution and rebounding led to easy fast break points and 3 pointers. In short, they played excellent and we didn't. This is when the loss in Game 1 will haunt you. We should have closed out that game better. It would have changed the complexion of the series.

But anyway, as the old wise men would say, learn from it! The PBA is our training ground in preparation for the ultimate goal for the Olympic qualifier this September in Wu Han, China. For sure, we have learned a lot of new tactics in our stint here in addition to being mentally tough and playing with a lot of poise when the games were getting 'heated'.

Thank You

I mentioned this through my twitter account, but once again I'd like to thank all Team Pilipinas supporters who followed and cheered for us in the game venues, at home or even in foreign countries via FB or livestreaming links! Through your words of encouragement & support via twitter or through other means, it is much easier to move on and keep fighting knowing that you're there behind us, win or lose! Sabi niyo nga, it's not always about winning. What's most important is that we display unselfishness, class and sportsmanship, while playing our HEARTS out! And... offer everything up to God, who is the source of all our talents & blessings (I think this beautiful reminder extends outside of sports and applies to everyone of us in whatever field)

To the PBA, a big thank you for this learning experience! But more importantly, thank you for bringing the National team closer to the Filipino people! Most of our games are abroad and not many Filipinos get to watch the team compete until now. In fact, I've noticed a significant increase in Gilas supporters in the venue and through the internet.

Rest assured, Coach Rajko, the coaching staff, the players, including the management, are all committed to continue improving through rigid training and international exposure in order to bring back the respect to Philippine basketball and give us more reason to become proud Pinoys!

Maraming Salamat ulit! Go Team Pilipinas! Go Pinoy!

Oh by the way, Happy Easter!!


P.S. We have a 3 day rest and then we report back to practice in preparation for the FIBA Asia Champions Cup (This is not yet the Olympic qualifier) which will be held in MANILA from May 28 to June 6 at the Ultra in Pasig. 10 teams from Asia will participate, mostly club teams composed of national players plus 2 imports. Sana sama-sama na tayong lahat sa tournament na ito (as promised by the Ginebra fans after the series, I'll keep that in mind :) )!