Port Area, Manila
October 6, 2013
Gilas Pilipinas, Jr.
The Gilas magic has spread everywhere.
First it was with the 3×3 team of Kobe Paras, Thirdy Ravena, Arvin Tolentino and Prince Rivero, who made it to the FIBA World Under-18 3×3 Championship in Jakarta, Indonesia. They won their first three games but lost the rest including one game against powerhouse China where the Filipinos led, 12-11, only to foul out all. So China won it, 20-0. It’s but fitting to mention that Paras, the 15-year-old son of former PBA rookie MVP Benjie, won the slam dunk competition against players from powerhouse countries USA, Spain and China.
And now here comes the Philippine Under-16 team which snared an unprecedented silver medal in the FIBA-Asia U-16 Championship in Tehran, Iran. The feat was the best effort by the country in the biennial meet after a pair of fourth place finishes in the first edition in Johor Bahru, Malaysia in 2009 and Nha Thrang, Vietnam two years back. And we almost struck gold there. The team, coached by former multi-titled Ateneo high school coach Jamike Jarin, scaled the Great Wall and gave the Chinese a huge scare before coming short in the end. They lost, 78-85, but not without putting up a brave front.
Interestingly, it was the lowest winning margin by China in the event in 26 wins stretching three tournaments. Their finals win over the sharpshooting South Koreans in the first two stagings were blowouts.
The Filipinos will also join the Chinese in the FIBA World Under-17 Championship slated from June 26 to July 6 in Dubai next year. And the boys for sure felt what their Gilas counterparts felt when they took home the silver and made it to the FIBA World Cup in Spain. Delirious. Perhaps ecstatic.
And like Gilas, the Phl U-16’s silver is worth the gold.
Sportsmaryosep’s postscript: I have no trophy or medals to give. Nor have money to reward the boys. But in behalf of the rest of the Filipinos, I bestow each and everyone of you–Ateneo’s Mike and Matt Nieto and Jolo Mendoza, La Salle-Greenhills’ Carlo Abadeza and Mike dela Cruz, Far Eastern U’s Richard Escoto, UP’s Paul Desiderio, UPIS’ Diego Dario, San Sebastian’s Enzo Navarro, Sacred Heart of Cebu’s Arnie Padilla, Beacon’s Mikel Panlilio and Hope’s Jolo Go and the coaching staff headed by Jarin–this imaginary medal of valor for making the whole country proud. You are all heroes. Salute.
Follow Sportsmaryosep on Twitter: @JoeySVillar
(Photos courtesy of FIBAAsia.net)