“You don’t play against opponents, you play against the game of basketball.” Bobby Knight
By Alex P. Vidal
NEW YORK CITY — So what’s the big deal if we wound up second to China in the recently-concluded 2015 FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in Changsha City, China on Sept. 23-Oct. 3?
Instead of bellyaching, we must, in fact, jump in jubilation that we reached that far.
Didn’t we know that Gilas Pilipinas’ silver medal tasted like gold?
In the first place, to land in the championship round against mighty China was already a king-sized accomplishment, given the tough field that Gilas was in, let alone campaigning in a hostile territory.
Against the host country, our chances to bag the title were nil.
It would have been a different story if the game was held in Tehran or Nagasaki. Or in Manila.
But our cagers were “fighting for their life” in the capital of Hunan province, a large city with a history dating to the Zhou dynasty (1046–256 B.C.).
If we can’t lick China somewhere else, we can’t beat them right in their own home court, where the crowd, aside from being rowdy, was violent (they threw empty bottles on the Gilas bench) and definitely wouldn’t go home yielding the FIBA throne on a silver platter to any foreign customer.
That the officiating was bum and horrific wasn’t news at all.
If they wouldn’t cheat, they would be on a hell ride if the Gilas threatened to pull the rug from under them after Gilas’ surprising 5-0 juggernaut in the first quarter.
We don’t need a trip to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Give the ride to the Chinese.
The silver medal finish was a blessing in disguise. In Rio, we will only be eaten alive, humiliated and exposed as Lilliputians.
Our present line-up has no match against Argentina, Brazil, USA, Uruguay, Germany, Italy, Ukraine, Spain, among other global giants.
Let China do the battle for the Asians in Rio.
They are more equipped, financially-prepared, more exposed and with many crack reserves, more battle-scarred, and ready to lock horns with the who’s who in the world of sports politics as an economic behemoth.
We have limited influence and power. We can’t even send a competent representative to lobby for the Fiba hosting. Instead of sending a seasoned negotiator, we sent Manny Pacquiao, who ended up in a photo-op with Yao Ming.
Let’s call spade a spade. Our 12-man roster that walloped Japan twice in as many confrontations: 6-2 Calvin Abueva, 27, 6-11 Andray Blatche, 29, 6-6 Ranidel de Ocampo, 33, 6-5 Matt Ganuelas, 25, 6-2 Dondon Hontiveros, 38, 6-4 J. C. Intal, 31, 6-6 Gabe Norwood, 30, 6-6 Marc Pingris, 33, 5-10 Terrence Romeo, 23, 6-9 Asi Taulava, 42, 6-7 Sonny Thoss, 33 and 5-11 Jayson Castro, 29, will reign supreme in Southeast Asia or Asian Games, for that matter, but not in the World Olympics.
Magpakatotoo tayo, please.
Pardon me, but I still maintain that the RP Team that finished 5th in the 1936 Berlin Olympics was still the best, a lot better than Gilas Pilipinas.
And they were all natural-born Filipinos. No naturalized. No imports. We were better than China (tie with Germany at 15th), Italy (7th), Brazil (9th), and France (19th), all powerful teams in this generation.
And who can forget the greatest RP Team-ever assembled that finished third behind the USA and Brazil in the 1954 World Basketball Championship of the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) in Rio de Janeiro composed of Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, and Lauro “The Fox” Mumar, Pons Saldaña, Florentino Bautista, Mariano Tolentino, Antonio Genato, Francisco Rabat, Rafael Barredo, Bayani Amador, Ramon Manulat, Nap Flores, and Ben Francisco?
NOTE: A basketball tournament had been contested during the 1904 Olympic Games in St. Louis, but it is usually considered a demonstration, and not a true Olympic event. Thus, the first Olympic Basketball championship took place in 1936. As the inventor of the game, the United States was considered the favorite, although there had been almost no international competitions prior to 1936. In 1935, the first European Championship had been contested, with Latvia winning, Spain second, and Czechoslovakia third. Latvia competed at the 1936 Olympics but did not even survive the second round. There had been South American Championships since 1930, twice won by Uruguay and once by Argentina, prior to the 1936 Olympics.