Will PH win an Asian Games basketball gold in our lifetime?
MANILA, Philippines - Basketball tears swamped afternoon thunderstorms Wednesday. Where was it strongest? At the Araneta Coliseum, where National University ended Ateneo’s title dreams? Or at offices and homes were basketball fans fretted briefly and were relieved the Philippines beat Mongolia, 84-68, to limp in seventh place at the Asian Games.
The young ‘uns of the Blue and White will find it difficult to accept defeat, but one superstar does not make a team as countless UAAP wars have proven. To another generation of basketball fans, seventh place in the Asian Games is the height of ignominy.
So much hope and hype has been heaped upon the Philippine team after nearly toppling Croatia and Argentina in the FIBA World prelims, but Incheon brought even the frenzied cage lovers down to earth.
This is the worst finish of a Philippine basketball team since the Asian Games in 1951.
The Incheon performance is even lower than the fifth place in the 1978 Asian Games in Bangkok and fourth place in the 1982 Asiad in Bangkok. These were the years where the PBA was formed and collegiate players or cagers from the MICAA manned national teams.
Unlike the successful surprise invasion of the UN forces at Incheon during the 1950 Korean War, Gilas Pilipinas’ onslaught sputtered. They sputtered and failed to close games as Filipinos wrung their hands in dismay. Their magic, spun in Seville, faded.
Why were smaller players blowing past our guards like in the game against Qatar? Why did that Iranian Kamrani-Bahrami duo take charge of the game? And why did we collapse after leading by 16 points against South Korea?
That tactic, if it can be called, of shooting in the opponent’s basket against Kazakhstan, to force overtime where we could get that 11 point cushion to enter the semis has epitomized the Philippines’ campaign. Maybe it was legal in 1971, when an Adamson cager shot towards the FEU basket in a UAAP game and deadshot Valerio de los Santos tried to block it. It didn’t sink.
But the greater question is: Does it matter if we place seventh, the worst basketball finish for us?
In 1966, when the Philippines placed sixth in the Asian Games basketball competition, it began to rebuild under new coach Carlos Loyzaga, who led his Dirty Dozen to the 1967 Asian Basketball Confederation championship in Seoul.
We came close to the pinnacle in the 1990 Asian Games helmed by Robert Jaworski but it was surreal. Used to one-on-one plays and man-to-man defense in the PBA, the Philippines failed to pose a serious threat to China’s zone defense.
And yet this one-on-one tendency saved us in a way, when Jojo Lastimosa took charge in the last three minutes of the bronze medal game versus Kazakhstan that allowed us to place third in 1998, our medal in the Asiad.
A newer lineup, perhaps with longer and better training, will be needed for the 2015 FIBA Asia tournament as only the winner qualifies for the 2016 Olympics. Jimmy Alapag, now 36, had a bittersweet farewell. Gary David, who could have been used as a defender, is also 36. Ranidel de Ocampo, the top scorer against Mongolia with 25, is 32. Marc Pingris, who sat out the Philippines’ last two games, is also 32. Jeff Chan, whose three-point arm was off-and-on, is 31, and the spunky LA Tenorio is 30.
Jayson Castro, who was injured and did not go to Incheon, is 28, and Gabe Norwood, 29.
One wonders: Did age catch up with them in the end? Pace is a key of the Philippine team’s game.
Filipino cage fans, who believe our brand of saksak, lusot, Air Jordan hoops is the best, will put this behind them. It will be back to the UAAP where a historic final between National University and Far Eastern University will take place. They will embrace the PBA wholeheartedly again.
It’s been 24 years since the silver in Beijing. Will the Philippines see a basketball gold medal in the Asian Games, with the kingpin Iran, and new challenges from Qatar, Lebanon and Kazakhstan? Will we be number one in Asian basketball again? - Rappler.com