Over 19,000 spectators, majority of which are Filipinos, filled the Mall of Asia Arena to watch the final of the FIBA Asia Championship. A lot was at stake, the foremost of which is the gold medal and a claim to be the best in Asia. Both the Philippines and Iran were assured a trip to Spain for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, but they still battled through 40 minutes of intense action in an effort to lay claim as Asia’s best team.
While Gilas Pilipinas fought toe-to-toe with the Iranians, the law of averages eventually caught up with them. Iran was too tall and too skilled to overcome, eventually winning the contest 85-71. Still, the loss did not dampen the Filipino spirit, as it showed throughout the tournament that whatever the Filipinos lacked in ceiling, they made it up with heart, grit and resiliency, traits that made this year’s Gilas Pilipinas team special.
All it took was full support from the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, the PBA, and the Filipino people, for making this possible. The PBA delayed it’s season-ending Governor’s Cup just to have its national team players practice and breed chemistry in time for the tournament. Though there were some obstacles along the way, Gilas Pilipinas made sure they make the most out of the preparations for the tournament.
For eight playing days, Gilas Pilipinas fought with some of Asia’s best, and through those battles they somehow found ways to win all the way to the final. The most impressive victory for the nationals came on August 10 against Korea, beating them 86-79 in order to book a trip to the Basketball World Cup. Though a loss to Iran dropped them to a silver finish, it was a marked improvement from their 4th place finish in the 2011 tournament, one credited to the faith, planning and preparation of the players, coaches and management.
With the successful hosting of the FIBA Asia Championship now in the books, the Filipino basketball scene returns to normal. The NCAA resumes the final few games of the first round today, while the UAAP second round and the PBA Governor’s Cup gets underway on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the next round of planning and preparation for Gilas Pilipinas begins today, this time for the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. It may be a long shot, but it is possible that the Philippines can finish impressively in the world stage.