PH’s road back to Olympic hoops stretches 43 years
MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine national men’s basketball team has not set foot on an Olympics basketball court since 1972.
Now, Gilas Pilipinas version 3.0 is on the cusp of a gold medal that accomplishes two things: proves that they are the best in Asia, and sends them to the Olympics for the first time in 4 decades.
Gilas nipped Japan in the semifinals, 81-70, to reach the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship finals for a second straight time since the last continental tilt in 2013.
The Philippines is up against another giant in host China. They go head-to-head for all the marbles on Saturday, October 3 at 8:30 pm.
If Gilas wins, they can finally end a 4-decade long drought and make the 2016 Summer Olympics men’s basketball tournament in Rio de Janeiro. If not, they are already assured of a spot in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament happening in 2016 from July 5 to 16, which is a longer and tougher route to the Olympics.
It’s been too long since the Philippines was on that particular world stage. Let’s take a look at just how different the world was then compared to today. (READ: Gilas 'fortunate' to beat Japan, but that's better than being unlucky)
Feel free to share your insights, too, in the comments section below!
The last time the Philippines played in an Olympics men’s basketball tournament…
– This entire Gilas 3.0 team, save for Asi Taulava, was not even born yet. Taulava was only two years old when the likes of Freddie Webb, Bogs Adornado, Danny Florencio, and Yoyong Martinez played Olympics hoops in Munich, West Germany.
– Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Vine, Instagram and all the fabulous platforms we use to inebriate ourselves with Gilas news did not exist.
– In fact, the Internet as we know it now, wasn’t even alive yet in 1972. It was then mainly used for military and academic research.
– The PBA, the local pastime of generations of Filipinos, did not exist yet as it was founded 3 years later in 1975.
– Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin wasn’t coaching yet in 1972. He was only 14 years old then.
– Assistant coach Jong Uichico was only 10 years old at the time. Alex Compton was only a two-year old.
– Another assistant coach Norman Black was only 15 years old and playing high school basketball at Cardinal Gibbons School in Baltimore, Maryland.
– When the Philippines was at Olympics basketball, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was the NBA MVP for the 1971-1972 season. Los Angeles Laker Wilt Chamberlain was the Finals MVP as they defeated the New York Knicks in 5 games.
– The 1971-1972 UAAP season was the final year of the UE Red Warriors’ longest legendary run of 7 straight years as champions in UAAP men’s basketball.
– Michael Jordan was only 9 years old.
– The “Thrilla in Manila” had not even happened yet. The legendary bout between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier took place at the Araneta Coliseum on October 1, 1975.
– Michael Jackson was only just beginning to emerge as a solo artist, with two songs on Billboard’s Year-End Hot 100 Singles of 1972.
– The world was still dealing with the break-up of English pop culture phenomenon The Beatles.
– In local entertainment, Fernando Poe Jr. won Best Actor at the 1972 FAMAS Awards for his movie Asedillo.
– The Philippines was then under the presidency of Ferdinand Marcos, who declared Martial Law that exact year.
– Current Philippine President Benigno Aquino III was only 12 years old in 1972.
– with contributions from Michael Bueza, Rey Santos and Analette Abesamis/Rappler.com