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Gilas Pilipinas' 5th Place Asiad Finish Glitters Like Gold; Real Gold to Follow in Four Years

  • Uncertainties may have surrounded the Gilas Pilipinas' basketball stint in the 2018 Asian games, but the future is promising for them.
Modified 20 Dec 2019, 17:31 IST

Jordan Clarkson finally got to wear a Gilas Pilipinas jersey and proved he can dominate Asian basketball.
Jordan Clarkson finally got to wear a Gilas Pilipinas jersey and proved he can dominate Asian basketball.

A victim of bad circumstances, the hastily formed Gilas Pilipinas was one offensive play away from a virtual gold medal match, but, as it turned out, it ended up blowing out a consolation match opponent to finish outside the podium, instead.

A picture of how quickly the fortunes of the team has turned, from not being sent to the Asian games to being given the go-signal barely a week before the opening, Coach Yeng Guiao's "Gilastopainters" got its biggest boost when the NBA finally gave in to allowing Jordan Clarkson to finally wear a Philippine jersey, thus, becoming one of the title favourites overnight.

The Cleveland Cavalier had to skip their first game though as he made the flight all the way to Jakarta on a short notice, but it wasn't a problem at all as Gilas manhandled Kazakhstan. And with the crucial game against China being almost a week after, the ace Filipino-American guard was able to acclimatize with the weather and his new teammates.

From being the overwhelming underdogs against mighty China to have an outside chance of pulling off an upset, the Philippine team almost tore down the Great Wall as they storm back from a double-digit deficit to lead by five points with only a minute left in the game. Had Gilas completed the shocker, they could've had the easier path to the championship game having to contend with Indonesia and Chinese Taipei, teams they had easily beaten in the past tournaments. But the 7-0 Chinese run broke the hearts of the millions of Filipinos and sent Gilas in a direct collision course with powerhouses South Korea and Iran instead to have a shot at the gold medal.

In the quarterfinals, Gilas put a gallant stand against South Korea in the first three quarters leading by as high as 12 points at some point of the game, only to falter in the fourth and had to live the "Korean curse" all over again. They lost to a better-prepared South Korea by 8 points, kissed their hope of winning a medal goodbye, and learned yet again the bitter lesson that championship teams are not formed overnight.

Salvaging some pride, Yeng Guiao and his wards took their frustrations at their consolation match opponents, Japan and Syria, displaying their superiority to finish 5th in the tournament, a two-notch improvement from the last Asiad four years ago.

At the end of the day, the 5th place finish is something to be proud of, after all. And with a longer preparation and a better lineup the next time around, Gilas Pilipinas will definitely have a shot at the gold medal four years from now.

Published 01 Sep 2018, 21:09 IST
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