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2013 Gilas Pilipinas team truly a special family says LA Tenorio

Seven years ago today, Gilas Pilipinas scored arguably its most famous win in program history. In 2013, Gilas took down South Korea in the semifinals of the FIBA-Asia Championship, sending the Philippines all the way to the FIBA World Cup. Members of that fateful team became instant legends and more than the talent present, the incredible bond by that Gilas iteration proved to be one of their keys to incredible success. "That group was really special," guard LA Tenorio said. "The whole process of going to the World Cup was an experience in itself. We've gotten to know each other kahit magkaka-laban kami," LA added. Aside from Tenorio, members of the 2013 Gilas Pilipinas team, or Gilas 2.0, were Jimmy Alapag, Jeff Chan, Jayson Castro, Gary David, Ranidel De Ocampo, Gabe Norwood, Marcus Douthit, Larry Fonacier, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, and Marc Pingris. For LA, that group turned into a family, and future Gilas teams can make a great example of them to achieve and even surpass what they did almost a decade ago. "I think if the next group would really want to go to the next level like the World Cup or the Olympics, the team really has to be special hindi lang sa basketball," Tenorio said. "The relationship outside basketball is really important. It wasn't just like being teammates, we really became a family," LA added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnAug 10th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent of their potential when they play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost a podium finish to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure, but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 2020

Four GDLs for UP in UAAP 84? Why not, says Javi

Joe Gomez de Liano is out to prove himself in the University of the Philippines come UAAP Season 83. With Fighting Maroons mainstays Javi and Juan deciding to sit out that season to focus full-time on being part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool and balling for Nueva Ecija in the MPBL, the eldest brother has a shot at being the one and only GDL in the Srs. squad. "It's really a big chance for me to prove myself kasi, siyempre you'll get minutes kasi it's a new team e," he said in The Prospects Pod last Friday. "I was so excited to get a chance to prove what I can do pero I still have hope." Joe GDL said he "was excited" as UAAP 83 has been pushed back from its usual season start of September to the next year. Nonetheless, that just means that the 6-foot-2 forward has much more time to prepare to prove he belongs in a State U side that would now be fronted by Bright Akhuetie, Kobe Paras, and Ricci Rivero. If he does, then another golden opportunity opens up not just for him, but for the GDL family. Asked about his years of eligibility, Joe answered, "I think I have two or three so kaya pa nga (maging teammates) with Jordi whenever he goes to UP." That means that Joe has two or three seasons to play for the Fighting Maroons, Javi has one more, and Juan has two of his own. With Jordi heading into his last year in the Jrs., there is a possibility that the four brothers could be teammates in UP Srs. for Season 84. "For me, actually it would mean the world to me," Juan said, talking about that possibility. "We haven't seen four brothers in one team. First time ata yun if ever." Actually, how about 4 GDLs as UP Fighting Maroons?@thejoewa + @javigdl22 + @juan_swish9 + @jordigdl6 as teammates in #UAAPSeason84? G? pic.twitter.com/cIC5uihCVD — Normie Riego (@riegogogo) February 6, 2020 Indeed, for the most part, collegiate basketball has seen two brothers, at most, playing together in one team - with the Ravenas in Ateneo de Manila University, the Riveros in De La Salle University, and the Marcelinos in Lyceum of the Philippines University coming to mind. And so, if all falls into place, the GDLs have a shot at making history - at the same time giving UP's jersey makers quite the problem. Without a doubt, having not one, not two, but three brothers stand with you as you wage war would be something special. "Why not?" Javi quipped. He also added, "Kahit kami ni Juan, mawawala muna kami, I hope you still support UP because Joe and Jordi are still there. Hopefully, soon, we get to play together again." --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 25th, 2020

FIBA: Time investment key to unlocking Gilas Pilipinas potential says Chot

For all intents and purposes, Gilas Pilipinas right now is on a rebuilding phase in order to recapture lost glory and also to prepare for the 2023 hosting of the FIBA World Cup. To start, the national team has identified a number of young players to make the initial pool of talent, highlighted by the five guys drafted in the special Gilas Draft of 2019, led by top pick Isaac Go. Gilas is also in the process of selecting a new head coach. While the system appears to be off and running, former head coach Chot Reyes says that the Gilas Pilipinas program will come down to one thing: time. "It’s hard to say and I don’t want to comment because I’m no longer the coach, but I’m sure there’s a disadvantage and that disadvantage is time," Reyes said. Coach Chot was one of the latest special guest to Ariel Vanguardia's webinar for the Hoops Coaches International podcast. "The team you saw in 2013 against Korea and more so the team you saw in 2014 in the Worlds, the reason we played there because I think that was our most prepared [team]," Reyes continued. "By most prepared, I mean one-month preparation. We were given one month to play the best teams in the world, as in July 28 or something, we arrived in Miami and that was the first time the players met Andray Blatche. Can you imagine if we had two months or three months?" Coach Chot added. True enough, since the success of Reyes' Gilas 2.0, every succeeding version of the national team has had limited preparation regardless of what tournament they're competing in. The regular schedule as of late is that Gilas meets to practice once a week every Monday, with more practices added depending on how close the upcoming tournament is already. However, one of the main problems is that Gilas typically starts practice around 2-3 weeks before game time. The latest Gilas team to compete in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers had barely two weeks to cut down its original pool of 24 players. "The one disadvantage really that any Gilas team faces is just time, just to get time to come together and get to play to the best of their ability," Coach Chot said. With that in mind, Reyes believes that the best of Gilas Pilipinas is yet to come. It might sound so simple and trivial but it truly only takes an investment in time to bring out the best in the Philippine national team. "Our Gilas team, you haven’t seen the best of us. You haven’t seen as at our peak," Coach Chot said. "We have not seen a Gilas team go out and play at its peak. Even us, as well as we played in 2013-2014, we were not in our peak," Reyes added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.]   [Updated Notes: The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 3rd, 2020

FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World

This story was originally published on Feb. 24, 2019 It’s Saturday night at Mall of Asia and the arena is absolutely rocking. Eternal basketball rivals in the Philippines and South Korea are delivering another classic. Gilas Pilipinas is down to the final minute of regulation against its longtime tormentor in the second of two semifinal games. The national team is up by two, 81-79. The Philippines is hosting the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships where three tickets to the 2014 World Cup are at stake and the winner of this particular game gets one of those tickets. Given the rich history of both teams and what it would mean to the winner, this pivotal game has gone down the wire as everyone pretty much expected. Also knowing the history of both teams in international play, Gilas’ precarious two-point lead was not safe at all. A ghost was lurking in the background and a dreaded curse felt almost inevitable. Down to the final minute of the crucial grudge match between the Philippines and South Korea, guard Jimmy Alapag has the ball and a two-point lead. What he will do will help define not only his career but the legacy of the Gilas name as a national team.   WAKE-UP CALL Even before the Philippines-Korea game, Gilas Pilipinas already had to go through one emotional game early in its homestand for the Asian Championships. In a preliminary round showdown against Chinese Taipei, the Filipinos collapsed in the fourth quarter, allowing the Taiwanese to steal a morale-boosting 84-79 win. In 2013, the relationship between the two countries hit a rough patch over the death of one Taiwanese fisherman. In an updated May 17 report by CNN’s Jethro Mullen, “Taiwan has reacted angrily after one of its fishermen was killed by a Philippine coast guard vessel.” Taiwan had frozen applications from OFWs seeking jobs in its territory and the government of then President Ma Ying-jeou demanded an apology, among other things, from the Philippines. While the national basketball teams of both countries never really had any prior animosity with each other, tension was naturally present as both teams squared off in Group A action. Gilas Pilipinas and Chinese-Taipei both entered the showdown with identical 2-0 records and the winner would take control of solo Group A lead heading into round 2. Taking a good lead into the fourth quarter, the Philippines was outscored by 18 in the last 10 minutes and the national team took its worst home loss in quite some time. “At the time, it was a huge game for us. We understood what was happening in Taipei during that particular time. We really wanted to win for what our kababayans were going through at that time,” guard Jimmy Alapag said on that first home loss in the 2013 Asian Championships. “We didn’t get the job done, and it was tough especially to lose a game like that, it was a very emotional and it was a game that we knew we needed,” he added. The crushing loss meant that the Philippines had little room for error in round 2. While Gilas didn’t have any world beaters lined up in the second round, anything less than a perfect run would have meant an early clash with Asia’s established powerhouse teams in the knockout stages. On the other side of the bracket, defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea were battling for position and were expected to finish in the top-3. That means if Gilas Pilipinas failed to finish no. 1 in its group, the national team would have faced one of those teams in the quarterfinals. Gilas picked up a crucial win over Qatar in the 6th of August and the day after, the Philippines got some help from those same Qataris as they beat Taipei in a close decision. At the end of round 2, all teams finished with identical win-loss records but Gilas Pilipinas would take over first place after all tiebreaks were considered, barely edging out Taipei. The Philippines ended up avoiding defending champion China, Iran, and South Korea and instead got Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals. No. 2 Taipei drew China and the third-running Qataris were matched up with the South Koreans. “I think that was the moment we grew up and grew closer. I think that was the lowest of the lows, just because of the atmosphere and what was going on between both countries. It kind of felt that we let our end of the bargain down, you know what I mean? We’re on our home soil and we didn’t take care of business. I think that was one of those moments where we had to really check ourselves and find a way to make it right,” forward Gabe Norwood said of the Taipei loss. “But it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. In tournaments like FIBA-Asia it’s important that you have short-term memory whether it was a win or a loss. We needed to let go of that game and continue to stay the course, keep our focus in the tournament,” Alapag added. On August 7, four days after Gilas lost to Taipei, the rift between the Philippines and Taiwan would reach a resolution and the latter country lifted its freeze hiring and other sanctions on the former. The Philippines also did issue on official apology over the death of the Taiwanese fisherman a couple of months prior and the National Bureau of Investigation in Manila recommended the pressing of homicide charges to erring members of the Philippine Coast Guard.   DARK HISTORY If the word “rival” is to be defined as a, “person or group that tries to defeat or be more successful than another person or group” then sure, the Philippines and South Korea are rivals. Both countries are rivals in the Asian basketball scene and they have been going at it for a very long time. But if the word rival can also mean “equal” or “peer,” is the Philippines really a worthy basketball rival to South Korea? The Philippines’ history with South Korea in terms of basketball is dark. Very dark. Consider the most high-profile matches between the two countries and you’ll see that the Philippine national team is just not at the level of South Korea. Or at the very least, Koreans always seem to reach 120 percent when the play Filipinos and we barely bring out 80 percent of our abilities when matched up against our East Asian neighbors. The 1998 PBA Centennial team, arguably the greatest Philippine team ever assembled, was demolished by South Korea in the Asian Games. A national team set up for gold only settled for bronze. Speaking of a bronze medal game, the original Gilas Pilipinas team lost to South Korea in the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships. That team squandered a double-digit lead and collapsed late. Of course, who can forget the semifinals of the 2002 Asian Games in Busan when Olsen Racela had the chance to put the Philippines up four but missed two free throws. South Korea would win with a booming triple at the buzzer off a broken play and would later take down China to capture the gold medal. South Korea is the Philippines’ basketball nemesis for all intents and purposes. A worthy adversary that always seem to emerge victorious at our expense. Still, all that previous disappointment didn’t seem to bother Gilas Pilipinas six years ago. The team was not scared and instead, they were excited even. One factor to greatly consider was that fact that the game was in Manila. It makes all the difference to play at home. “We understood the bad history that we had with Korea. We haven’t been very successful with them in quite some time but we knew from Day 1 that if ever we got an opportunity to play them at home, then we have a great chance,” Alapag said. “Man, pre-game, it was just the focus. Everybody was up for the challenge, I don’t think anybody was really nervous, I think it was just the anxiety... we wanted to get out there and do it already,” Norwood added. Playing at home had its perks for sure but it also had its drawbacks. For all the painful losses the Philippines suffered at the hands of South Korea, it would have been devastating if Gilas actually took a beating in Manila. Stakes were extra high in this particular chapter of this long, ongoing saga. “There was always pressure, it was something that we acknowledged early. Playing at home, it’s great having that support but at the same time, there is some added pressure because you wanna make sure that you make our home crowd proud of the team that they watch and ultimately, win games,” Alapag said, making sure to note that the national team knew of the disadvantages of playing at home even before the Korea game. “It was there but it was something that we acknowledged and we wanted to make sure that we took advantage of the opportunity playing at home,” he added.   ALL FILIPINO, ALL HEART Once it was go time, the Philippines-South Korea game went about pretty normal, as you would expect any game from these two national teams. But even before halftime, an injury to Gilas center Marcus Douthit changed the complexion of the semifinals showdown. All of a sudden, the Philippines was without its anchor, without its best player. Sure, there were players on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace Douthit’s size but there was simply no one on the Gilas bench that can come in and replace his talent, production, and just overall presence. June Mar Fajardo was in that Gilas bench but it 2013, the would-be five-time PBA Most Valuable Player was just not at that level yet. It would have been easy for Gilas Pilipinas to fold like cheap furniture and succumb to the overwhelming pressure of trying to overcome South Korea to reach a stage very few Filipinos have reached before. Gilas didn’t fold and instead, the Douthit injury rallied the team even further. “Alam mo sa totoo lang, puso na lang yun eh. Nung nawala si Marcus talaga, sabi ni coach kailangan doble kayod tayo. Dahil sobrang dehado tayo kumbaga, wala na tayong import, wala tayong malaki,” forward Marc Pingris said. With Douthit gone, Ping ate up all of his minutes and worked by committee with guys like Ranidel De Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar to fill in the gaps. “As a player naman, kami nagusap-usap kami na kahit anong mangyari, lalaban kami. Yung time na yun, talagang patay kung patay,” Ping added. Despite losing its best player to an untimely injury, Gilas Pilipinas’ confidence in winning never wavered. With their collective backs against the wall, the Philippine national team played even better. Unlike the later iterations of Gilas Pilipinas, the 2013 team, aptly called Gilas 2.0, had the luxury of having actual preparation before the FIBA-Asia Championships. The amount of work that came before the tournament and the Korea game, the bond built over countless hours of training, all of that helped the national team avoid a monumental meltdown in front of a rabid Manila crowd. “We were such a close-knit team in terms of our chemistry, in terms of the talent that we had, so we felt confident even when Marcus went down early in the game. If you looked at our huddle, you had 11 more very confident guys, not just in themselves but more importantly, in each other,” Alapag said. “That just boiled down to the chemistry that we had. I don’t think any of us panicked, we were all confident in each other. We’ve all been into that situation with our PBA teams, having the ball in our hands and making a play. Knowing that we had five weapons on the floor that could make the winning play, I think it made us very confident and we were able to sustain our composure,” the former Gilas captain added.   THE GHOST AND ITS CURSE Shin Dong Pa, Hur Jae, Lee Sang-min, Oh Se-Keun, TJ Moon, and Cho Sung-min are just some players from the South Korean national team that inflicted incredible damage to the Philippines over the course of decades. The dreaded Ghost of South Korea takes form in these players and its curse is to give Filipinos the most heart-crushing loss possible. In 2013, the Ghost was Kim Min-goo and his curse was to beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Despite losing Marcus Douthit and trailing by three points at the break, the Philippines started to turn the tables in the second half. Gilas Pilipinas unleashed Jayson Castro and the Blur led a blazing offense in the third quarter, finding a way to take a 10-point lead over South Korea, the Philippines’ largest of the night. But as the dust settled and Gilas holding a 65-56 lead entering the final period, an ominous figure would make his presence felt. The Korean Ghost has arrived and his name was Kim Min-goo. His curse? Beat Gilas Pilipinas in Manila. Kim was 22 and a senior in college when he made the South Korean national basketball team as a backup shooter in 2013. In nine games in Manila, Kim would play well enough to make the tournament’s All-Star team, averaging 12.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 2.7 assists. He led Asian Championships with 25 three-point field goals, 10 came in the last two games and five came against Gilas Pilipinas. Kim drilled back-to-back triples to open the fourth quarter against the Philippines. Later, his fifth triple — a four-point play at that — pushed the Koreans to within a point, 72-73. South Korea would take over soon after as Lee Seung-jun dunked the basketball on a fastbreak. The Ghost has arrived and his curse is in effect. “Ako pumasok sa isip ko yun nung lumamang Korea, na putek ito na naman,” Pingris said. “Pero ang sabi ko, sayang yung opportunity, kaya naman eh. So sabi ni Jimmy samin, no matter what happens wag kami gi-give up. Pinaghirapan natin to at may goal tayo, this year aalis tayo,” he added, noting the team’s goal to get into Spain and compete with the world’s best national teams. Faced with the possibility of dealing with a devastating defeat, Gilas had enough mental fortitude to keep things going. Trust your system, trust your preparation, trust your crowd, trust your teammates, and more importantly, trust yourselves. “You’re never out of the game if you’re playing at home,” Norwood said as they stared a deficit late against their destined rivals. “I think that was our mindset, keep it close and just find a way,” he added. Jimmy Alapag found a way.   BORN READY Down 73-75, Jimmy Alapag was under heavy duress when he let go of a three-pointer from the left wing just in front of his bench. It was good to go. The Philippines was back on top by one as Alapag somehow managed to get his team to snap out of an initial shock following Korea’s strong fourth-quarter rally. The stage is now set for a wild finish and Jimmy will star in the final act of what has been an incredible show by Gilas and South Korea. “In situations like that, as an athlete and as a pro, that’s the situations that you dream about,” Alapag said.  “Those are shots that you practice when you were a kid. When the shot clock is winding down, to have an opportunity to knock down a shot. It’s a shot that I practiced thousands of times,” he added. After the Philippines and South Korea traded baskets for the lead, Alapag made perhaps the most underrated play in this crazy and emotional encounter between two basketball rivals. Tasked with inbounding the ball just near underneath his own basket, Alapag found his Talk ‘N Text teammate Ranidel De Ocampo for an open look at three. Swish. Gilas leads, 81-77, with 91 seconds to go. “Ranidel was my favorite target for a very, very long time in my career,” Alapag said on the play that most people probably don’t even remember. “Once I saw that he got open, I wanted to make sure that I gave him as great a pass as possible and Ranidel has been known for a long time to take care of the rest,” he added.   THE EXORCIST “Yeah, I was right under the basket,” Gabe Norwood says with a laugh when asked if he remembers the shot that changed the course of Gilas Pilipinas as a national team. Late in the fourth quarter of what was essentially a heavyweight bout, the Philippines just landed two strong haymakers but South Korea would refuse to go down without a fight, beating the count of 10 each time. Down to the final minute of a crucial grudge match with a World Cup berth on the line, Jimmy Alapag had his hands on the basketball as Gilas would go to its halfcourt set. Jimmy will never let go of said basketball. Up two, Jimmy did what Olsen wished he could 11 years prior. Up two against South Korea in a pivotal semifinal game, Alapag received a screen from Marc Pingris, which was enough to momentarily shake off Kim Tae-sul. With some room, Alapag drifted to his left and let a three-point shot fly. Boom. Gilas leads, 84-79, with 54 seconds to go. The shot would later be remembered as the one that ended the Korean Curse, the one that finally exorcised the Ghost. “The first thought that came to my mind was don’t miss,” Jimmy said of the clutch jumper. “That last one, Ping sets a good screen and I got a clean look. It’s a shot that myself, and Jayson [Castro], and Larry [Fonacier], and Gary [David], and Jeff [Chan], all of us, we practice that shot time and time again after practice. So you know, it was a shot that I was confident in but in that moment, all you’re thinking about was don’t miss,” he added. It’s one thing to be confident in yourself and to be confidednt in your preparation. It’s a different thing to actually perform under such pressure. As soon as Alapag managed to shoot his shot, Gabe Norwood did what any other good teammate would do and got in position to get the offensive rebound. You know, just in case. Gabe got the ball alright, but he got it after it swished through the rim. “When he put the shot up, I tried to crash for the rebound but I basically knew that it was going in,” he said. “I had probably the best view, I was right under the basket. I think caught it after it went through too,” Norwood added. Alapag checked out moments later as the Philippines went to its defensive lineup in order to stop another Korean comeback. South Korea turned to its most effective shooter in Kim and as he rose up to try and answer Alapag’s triple, Norwood met him at the apex for the game’s most dramatic stop. Gabe blocked Kim and Gilas would finish things off with a final Marc Pingris basket on the other end. A historic 86-79 win was complete. “I still get chills thinking about it, to look up and see grown men just breaking down. My wife was trying to hold my kids and she was holding back tears. It was just an awesome moment, the bond that we had on that team, the stuff that we did to get prepare, I think we poured it all out in that game,” Norwood said on the monumental victory. “I think it probably didn’t hit me until the final buzzer sounded. Not just for me but for the entire team, when that final buzzer sounded, it was such a special group of guys and the fact that we could share that moment with not just with each other but the entire country, it’s something I’ll remember for the rest of my life,” Alapag added, savoring the moment of a Philippine win over Korea 28 years in the making.   THE INTRODUCTION Gilas Pilipinas would lose to Iran the next day in the Finals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The Philippines put up a fight but Hamed Haddadi would prove to be too powerful to stop. It would take another two years for Gilas to beat Iran but that didn’t really matter in the moment. The Philippines is headed to the World Championships for the first time in three decades. The Philippines has beaten South Korea and one singular shot has allowed the Gilas name to be known around the world. Jimmy wouldn’t say that though. At least not directly in that way. “For me, that shot was the biggest for my career. But really, it was our entire team. We’ve gone through so much and that was just one particular play that really culminated the entire game and all the contributions from other guys from Gabe’s defense, to Ping’s rebounding, to Japeth’s rim protecting, to Jayson and LA doing a lot of the legwork,” Alapag said. “Everybody had their part in contribution to the game. After the shot, after the buzzer sounded, it was just a very special moment for us as a team and for Philippine basketball to show that all of the sacrifices, all of the hard work, now it’s given an opportunity to re-introduce ourselves to the world,” he added. Jimmy wouldn’t say it, but his teammates would. That shot of his that beat South Korea in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships introduced the Gilas name to the world. It announced that the Philippines has finally arrived. Gilas’ breakthrough overtime win a year later in Spain against Senegal — a game Jimmy pretty much decided late as well — made it known that Filipinos are here to stay on the World stage. “I would say so, it got us to where we wanted to be in the World Cup. I think we shocked some people there as well. But just the work that went in, I think it showed the country that we can get back to where we want to be as long as you work together,” Norwood said. “Yung puso ni Jimmy, grabe naman. Makikita mo maliit pero gusto lang niya talaga manalo. Ang liit pero parang lion pag nagalit eh, nandoon yung tiwala namin sa kanya. Ano pa ba masasabi mo, Jimmy is Jimmy Alapag,” Pingris would add.   [NOTES: At the time of original publishing, Gilas Pilipinas was fighting to make a return trip to the FIBA World Cup, this time in China in 2019. To secure its slot, the the Philippine national team needed to beat Kazakhstan in Astana plus a loss from Japan, Jordan, and/or Lebanon. One of the teams that can help Gilas is South Korea... ironically. Jimmy Alapag retired from national team play in 2014 and retired playing for good in 2016. He has since made himself a champion basketball coach in the ABL. Marc Pingris suffered an ACL injury in 2018 and is in the process of returning for his PBA team in the current 2019 season. Gabe Norwood is still in Gilas. He’s still an effective two-way weapon. He can still dunk and will stop your best player too.] The Philippines beat Kazakhstan to make the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas got help from... South Korea. The Koreans beat Lebanon on the road, allowing Gilas to advance to the World Championships outright with a victory over Kazakhstan.]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 2nd, 2020

Whatever happened to Gilas Pilipinas 2.0?

Since program’s inception, Gilas Pilipinas has been the name associated with the Philippine men’s basketball team. It gave the national team the identity it has used for a decade already. Gilas has gone through many iterations, but the current lineup, regardless of who the players are, only go by the general “Gilas” term. But early in the program’s history, each team went by a specific number, unofficially used by pretty much everyone to distinguish the teams that competed in different tournaments. It made sense too, since each team had a completely different identity. In later years, Gilas has improved in using the program as a way to ensure national basketball continuity. Nevertheless, each of the earlier Gilas versions had their success and failures. Here’s what happened to each of them.   Whatever happened to Gilas 2.0? Main tournament: 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships @ Manila, Philippines Prize: 3 tickets to the 2014 FIBA World Cup Result: Silver medal + World Cup berth (beat South Korea in semis, lost to Iran in gold medal game) Head coach: Chot Reyes Gilas 2.0 was the second time Chot Reyes handled the Philippine national team. The first time he did it, Coach Chot’s squad only managed 9th in the 2007 FIBA-Asia Championships in Japan. Six years later in Manila, Reyes is back at it again, and with some players from his 2007 team joining him too. Gilas’ silver-medal finish in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships and ensuing FIBA World Cup appearance in 2014 is Coach Chot’s best run as national team coach. Reyes would return to coach the national team in late 2016 before resigning for good in 2018. The Players: #4 Jimmy Alapag Alapag is back for a second straight stint with Gilas Pilipinas and this is the team where Jimmy carves out his legacy as one of the best national team players ever. In the semifinals against long-time nemesis South Korea, Alapag would hit the biggest shot in program history, pushing the Philippines to its first World Cup appearance in years. [Related: FIBA: Mighty Jimmy and the shot that introduced Gilas to the World] Once in the World Cup, Jimmy would once again hit the big shot to give Gilas its first World Cup win in four decades with an overtime decision against Senegal. Jimmy has since retired twice from basketball. He won the ABL title as head coach for San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas in the 2018 season. #5 LA Tenorio Tenorio already gave a glimpse of what he can do in the national team one-year prior, leading Gilas Pilipinas to the Jones Cup championship while winning MVP honors. In his first Gilas experience, LA started most games at point guard and was the Philippines’ best two-way option at the position. Together with Alapag and Jayson Castro, Tenorio formed perhaps the best point guard rotation in program history. After Gilas 2.0, it would be years for LA to make it back to Gilas, but once he did, he got a 2019 SEA Games gold medal to show for it. Tenorio just won another title with Barangay Ginebra, their fourth since 2016. #6 Jeff Chan Gilas 2.0 was flanked by shooters all over and the best one in Manila was Jeff Chan without a doubt. It’s not like Chan was a complete unknown when he was selected to Gilas, he did win Finals MVP for Rain or Shine in 2012. However, Chan wasn’t exactly tested when it comes to national team play. He got tested, and he passed with flying colors. Chan was the best shooter for Gilas both in total 3-point field goals made and percentage, shooting an insane 47.6 percent from deep. Chan won another title with ROS in 2016, before he was moved to Phoenix and eventually, Ginebra.  #7 Jayson Castro Gilas 2.0 was Jayson Castro’s coming out party for the Philippine national team. Sharing minutes with Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio, Castro was the weapon unleashed by Gilas when the going got tough. And as the tournament got deeper, it got more and more evident that The Blur was the national team’s best local. After the tournament, Castro was named in the All-Star team, and his reign as the best point guard in Asia also started his journey as a Gilas legend. While he’s already retired twice from Gilas, we’ll believe Castro is done when he doesn’t actually play. #8 Gary David Even as the PBA’s best scorer at the time, Gary David readily accepted his diminished role with Gilas 2.0. Out of all players, David finished second to last in scoring, beating out only June Mar Fajardo, who played seven games and only saw 31 minutes of total court action. Nevertheless, David was a key piece that made the Gilas 2.0 machine work, his explosive performance in the quarterfinals against Kazakhstan set up the South Korea game quite nicely too. Post-PBA, Gary David is seeing action in the MPBL, even being crowned as the league’s 3-point king in 2019. #9 Ranidel De Ocampo RDO was even better in Gilas 2.0 than he was in the original Gilas. Much like Castro, De Ocampo was a reliable weapon for coach Chot’s national team, his outside shooting ultimately proving crucial for Gilas. Ranidel was behind only Chan in 3-point field goals made and percentage for Gilas, he also hit the forgotten triple that help bury South Korea in the semifinals. RDO is technically still not retired, but injuries have forced him to slow way down in his later years in the PBA as a Meralco Bolt. #10 Gabe Norwood Norwood was one of the players from Coach Chot’s 2007 Philippine team that was present for Gilas 2.0 in Manila. Gabe didn’t do much scoring, but he played the most minutes out of everyone and was easily Gilas Pilipinas’ best defender all tournament long. Norwood’s clutch block on Kim Min-goo helped secure Gilas’ win over South Korea in the semifinals. Gabe is one of the longest-tenured players not just in the Gilas program but in Philippine national team history. In 2019, he made the World Cup for the second straight time. #11 Marcus Douthit Douthit was back for Gilas 2.0 and while his production was lowered compared to the original Gilas, he was still the rock and foundation of the national team. [Related: Whatever happened to Gilas Pilipinas 1.0?] Kuya Marcus’ stint ended early, as his tournament essentially ended before halftime of the semifinals of the game against South Korea due to injury, forcing Gilas to go true All-Filipino the rest of the way. Much like in Gilas 1.0, Douthit led Gilas in scoring and rebounding with 11.9 points and 9.4 rebounds. #12 Larry Fonacier The second designated shooter for the national team in 2013, Larry Fonacier was the classic 3-and-D player for Gilas 2.0. Gilas 2.0 was Fonacier’s only Gilas stint, and winning a silver medal is not a bad result for being one-and-done.  After Gilas 2.0, Larry would continue to play for TNT for a couple more seasons, before moving on to join the NLEX Road Warriors as one of the team’s veterans. #13 June Mar Fajardo June Mar Fajardo was a very raw prospect when Gilas 2.0 won silver in the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships. The future six-time PBA MVP only played in seven games and scored a grand total of three points. Nevertheless, Fajardo was a completely different player following his stint with Gilas 2.0. After he came out of his initial stint with the national team, Fajardo proceeded to dominate the PBA for half a decade and counting, and his consistent Gilas stints in the future also slowly helped him be a consistent contributor in international play. For all intents and purposes, Fajardo could still be a key piece with the country co-hosts the 2023 World Cup, 10 years after Gilas 2.0. #14 Japeth Aguilar While still limited, Japeth was an improved version of himself by the time he played for Gilas 2.0.  He was the explosive reliever for the frontline, and was a crucial part of the rotation when Douthit suffered an injury during the South Korea game. Just like Norwood, Japeth has reached the 10-year mark in service of Gilas Pilipinas program and the national team as a whole, and Gilas 2.0 was just one of his many stops. #15 Marc Pingris The heart and soul of Gilas 2.0, Marc Pingris personified the national team’s famous battle cry. Gilas 2.0’s emotional leader, Ping had his teammates dig deep when they faced the greatest adversity of their World Cup bid in the semifinals against South Korea that eventually led to an iconic breakthrough. While his numbers won’t wow anyone, Ping’s leadership and influence in the national team resonates to this day, and it all started in Gilas 2.0.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8   .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2020

Gilas counting on Paras for leadership

Gilas Pilipinas is counting on Kobe Paras to provide the leadership for the young national team in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers slated on November 26 to 30 in Manama, Bahrain. Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas special assistant to the president Ryan Gregorio believes the 23-year-old Paras fits the role because of his age and international […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilatimes_netRelated NewsNov 16th, 2020

Wright dedicates performance to baby boy, OFWs

Matthew Wright (PBA Images) ANGELES CITY–Phoenix guard Matthew Wright dedicated his fiery performance against Magnolia on Friday to his son Sonny who just celebrated his first birthday. Wright waxed hot with 23 points, pouring eight of those in the Fuel Masters’ blistering 22-0 run in the fourth quarter that kindled their 91-84 comeback win over the Hotshots at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena. The Gilas Pilipinas stalwart also collected seven rebounds, four assists and two steals in almost 46 minutes of play without a single turnover as Phoenix arrested a two-game skid to improve to 3-2.  “The first birthday is always very special and I hate to see that I cried just thinking about it. The only way I can make this better was to dedicate my performance to him,” said Wright, whose family resides in the United States.  “I’m sure he’s watching but I don’t know if he understood what I was saying (in the TV interview). But when he gets older, hopefully he’ll look back and he’ll forgive me for not being in his pictures on his first birthday,” he added. The Fil-Canadian sniper said that missing special family occasions is part of the sacrifice that the 350-man delegation has to make in order to ensure the success of the Philippine Cup bubble. “Everybody’s going through it so you just have to suck it up.” The 6-foot-3 cager said he was even reminded of the bigger undertaking that the overseas Filipino workers have to do for their families. “It’s an amazing sacrifice and it’s so hard to be away from your family. And we’re only doing it for a couple of months so we got to man up.” “I was just thinking about them today.” .....»»

Category: newsSource:  mb.com.phRelated NewsOct 24th, 2020

Cage body to Gilas cap – Our heartfelt thanks

he Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas paid tribute to Jimmy Alapag after the long-time Gilas Pilipinas team captain and his family decided to migrate to the United States for good......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsSep 24th, 2020

Aljun Melecio s never-ending quest to prove he belongs

Aljun Melecio has these hardware sitting pretty on his trophy case: UAAP 78 Jrs. MVP, UAAP 79 Rookie of the Year, UAAP 79 champion. Now heading into his fifth and final year in De La Salle University, he remains recognized as one of the best point guards in all of college. Well, recognized by just about everybody except himself. Asked if he feels worthy to stand alongside the likes of NCAA 95 Finals MVP Fran Yu or UAAP 82 Rookie of the Year Mark Nonoy, he answered, modest as always, "Nope. I don't. Wala pa akong napapatunayan." Yes, the 5-foot-8 super scorer who was then head coach Aldin Ayo's "most-wanted recruit" feels he is yet to prove himself. Yes, the primetime playmaker who was once comforted by Tab Baldwin after the Green Archers had lost the championship despite his 16 points in Game 3 of the Finals feels he is yet to prove himself. That in itself is not necessarily surprising, though. And that's because all throughout his young career, Melecio has felt, again and again, that he has to prove himself. He had to prove himself even to La Salle, his home of nine years now. "Actually, 'di naman ako ni-recruit ng Zobel dati," he shared. "To be honest, my mindset at that time ay mag-Team B lang sa Zobel para pag may games, mas magagamit ako. Kaysa naman mag-Team A ako and nakaupo lang sa bench." BREAK IN Aljun Melecio, now a graduating guard, is La Salle's most recent homegrown product. Of the Green Archers' probable UAAP 83 roster, the now-22-year-old is the lone player to have come from the Taft-based school's Jrs. programs - and mind you, they have two in La Salle Zobel and La Salle Green Hills. In DLSZ, Melecio was a scoring dynamo who once dropped 42 points on archrival Ateneo de Manila High School. Did you know, though, that he wasn't even supposed to wear the green and white? "I was supposed to transfer sa UST nung high school," he recalled. "Pero napag-usapan naming family na since si kuya, nasa Zobel na nung time na yun, mas okay sigurong Zobel na lang din ako para magkasama kami." Aljun was referring to older brother Aleck who was also his teammate for three years with the Jr. Archers. If not for Aleck, however, Aljun would have suited up for University of Sto. Tomas High School where good friend Renzo Subido had already committed to play for college. After all, it was Subido, and dad Henry, who had convinced the Melecios to move to Manila from Bukidnon. "The reason talaga why we took the risk to come here was because of Coach Henry," Aljun shared, looking back at the time when all of them were repping Lourdes School of Mandaluyong. "They invited us to play basketball in Manila kaya malaki ang utang na loob namin sa Subido family." While Coach Henry and Renzo have been always there to lend a helping hand, that did not necessarily make the transition any easier - especially for a 10-year-old kid who was born and bred in Valencia City. "Grabe yung sacrifice na ginawa namin just for me to have more opportunities in life. That was a big adjustment not just for me, but also for my parents," Melecio said. He then continued, "Dumating yung time na ayoko nang bumalik sa Manila kasi na-homesick ako. Looking back now, normal lang naman siguro yun, lalong-lalo na bata pa ako." BREAKTHROUGH Make no mistake about it, looking back now, Aljun Melecio has no regrets. As he put it, "It was all worth it." Of course, he also had lady luck smile on him somewhat as, yet again following the footsteps of Subido, he transferred from Lourdes to DLSZ. And there, he found yet another mentor willing to believe in him. "Sina Coach Boris [Aldeguer], pagdating ko sa Zobel, they invited me to join yung practice ng Team A. Nagulat ako na kaya ko naman pala so doon na nag-start yung confidence ko," he said. Indeed, Melecio did not let Coach Boris down as in his first year, he proved to be a building block in their rebuild. While the boys from Alabang eventually ended outside the playoff picture, he had made more than enough noise to get the attention of the Philippine national youth team. There, DLSZ's top gun got his first taste of wearing the flag as part of the Batang Gilas training pool. "Masayang-masaya ako nun na makasama sa practice team dahil dream ko talaga maging part nun," he narrated. "May jersey lang and makasali lang ako sa practice, masayang-masaya ako." There, Melecio showcased his skills alongside other promising prospects such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt as well as Jolo Mendoza of Ateneo, Renzo Navarro of San Sebastian College-Recoletos, and Jollo Go of Hope Christian High School. And there, yet again, he knew full well he had to prove himself. During training itself, the new kid on the block believed he was doing so. At the same time, however, he had to come face-to-face with another beast altogether - how to get to practice in the first place. As it turned out, the then-13-year-old had to commute from south to north each and every time he participated in Batang Gilas training. How did his trips go? "From Alabang, mag-tricycle ako to [Alabang] Town [Center] then jeep going to Starmall [Alabang]. After nun, bus to Magallanes, MRT, then LRT, tapos jeep ulit," he shared. He then continued, "So papunta pa lang to Moro, pagod na ako. Then after practice, mag-commute na naman pauwi." Fortunately for him, there were also kind hearts like the Nieto twins who took him to the LRT station in Katipunan or Evan Nelle whom he rode with going back south. Still, around 33km and about an hour separated DLSZ in the south and Ateneo's Moro Lorenzo Sports Center in the north - indeed, that was some sort of workout already. BREAKDOWN In the long run, that was, unfortunately, much too much for young Aljun Melecio. While wearing the flag would have meant much, he also felt circumstances, such as that hell of a commute that cost him PHP 200 for a one-way trip, held him back from giving his all. Instead, Melecio felt he could do much more if he just rechanneled his energy to DLSZ. "After ilang weeks na ginagawa ko yung routine na yun, I started asking myself kung paano maayos yung priorities ko. Pinakiramdaman ko kung saan ako mag-iimprove so I talked to Coach Boris," he said. He the continued, "And I decided na mag-all in sa Zobel." All in for the Jr. Archers, he did, and boy, did it prove to be the right call. He was just getting started in UAAP 76, slowly but surely getting a grasp of both his capabilities and confidence as he helped the green and white barge back into the Final Four. Then in Season 77, it all clicked as he shot the green and white to the second rung of the stepladder all while putting up per game counts of 16.6 points, 6.2 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2.3 steals. Without a doubt, he willed his way into the Mythical Team that included the Nieto twins, his batchmates in Batang Gilas. The following year, with averages of 22.7 points, 7.1 rebounds, 3.3 assists, and 2.3 steals, he carried DLSZ all the way to the Finals where they stole one game from eventual champion Nazareth School of National University. And oh, he was the unanimous MVP of Season 78, besting the likes of future Gilas Pilipinas pool members Justine Baltazar and Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan. Even then, though, he wouldn't call himself the best of the best. "I didn't think na I belonged kasi never kong gustong isipin na ganun ako," he said. He then continued, "Ang alam ko lang, I worked extra hard, I had extra motivation to play. Thankfully, coach Boris supported my decision and dahil dun, na-boost yung confidence ko." BREAK FREE From there, Aljun Melecio did nothing but go onto greater and greater heights in La Salle's Srs. squad. Never tell him he has accomplished anything, though, as he would be the first to tell you that you're wrong. Up until now, he feels that he is yet to prove himself. He hopes to prove that he has what it takes to be behind the wheel for the Green Archers' new era. He hopes to prove that he could bounce back following the worst statistical season for him. And he hopes to prove that he has every right to be mentioned in the same breath as his one-time teammates in the Batang Gilas pool and his batchmates who are now part of the Gilas Pilipinas pool. "Lahat naman, ginagawa kong motivation," he said. "May it be positive or negative, we all have our timing so I'm just being patient para sa kung anuman ang ibibigay na chance sa akin." If and when that next shot at wearing the flag comes along, Melecio only vows to do what he has never stopped doing. Asked about getting a golden opportunity at the Gilas pool, he answered, "That's still a dream for me. I know I still have a lot to prove." He then continued, "But I will give my all if given the chance to represent. I always do." If and when that time comes, there would be no more 33km distance, one-hour travel time, or PHP 200 cost. Still, Aljun Melecio would work just as hard - if not more - as he did when he once had to commute south to north just to get to practice. Don't forget, proving himself is already second nature to him. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 29th, 2020

For Mike Nieto, all roads lead to leading

Mike Nieto's leadership is not just for the basketball court. Apparently, his voice carries just as much weight inside the Nieto household in Cainta. "Hanggang bahay, umaabot yung pagli-lead ko," he shared with a laugh. "Rinig na rinig palagi boses ko sa bahay. Since I've proven to them na I can be a leader sa court, siyempre, I can also be a leader dito sa bahay." What does that mean exactly? Well, let's just say that whenever the Nieto family decides they want and need some quality time together, it's the 23-year-old who sets the time and the place where it would happen. "I think nasanay na rin kasi sila na ako ang palaging nagsasalita kahit sa ganyang bagay so most of the time, ako na talaga nagsasabi saan at anong oras kami pupunta," he said. This is not at all that surprising as when you talk about Mike Nieto, you talk about leadership. That has long been the calling card of the 6-foot-2 swingman - from his days as a Blue Eaglet to his time as a Blue Eagle and from his stint in Batang Gilas to his current run in the Gilas Pilipinas pool. But… Why do people say that in the first place? What is it with Mike Nieto that just speaks, leader? FTW: For The tWin To get the answer, we need to go back to the start. As in, the very, very start. Technically, Mike is the leader of the four Nieto siblings as he is the firstborn of Ateneo de Manila legend Jett and super mom and dentist Girlie. Matt is his brother, but is younger by two minutes. Make no mistake, though, the twins have always gotten along. "Kami ni Matt, ever since, close na talaga kami. We started playing basketball at the age of six and from then on, naging magkasama na kami sa lahat ng bagay," Mike said. He then continued, "Even course namin sa college, pareho kaya almost lahat ng classes namin, classmates kami. Ever since talaga, unusual na hindi kami magkasama." Indeed, the Nieto twins have always been some sort of a package deal. Hence, the reports of their commitment to Ateneo for college had headlines such as "Ateneo scores 'twin kill' as Nieto brothers commit to play for Blue Eagles." Through and through, however, Mike was thought to be the leader - even though Matt is the point guard. The reason for that? Because "Big Mike" is more vocal. And why is he more vocal" Well, because he had a two minute headstart on "Matty Ice" at letting his voice be heard. Seriously, though, Mike said it was just because he doesn't waste any time at all in being vocal - and that's why he's being heard first and more often. "Siguro, mas maingay lang kasi ako kay Matt. Ako kasi, kapag may nakita akong mali sa ginagawa ng teammates ko, siguradong makakarinig agad sila sa akin," he shared. He then continued, "Hindi ako papayag na lilipas ang isang bagay na alam kong makakasama sa team. Talagang maglalabas at maglalabas ako ng mga salita hanggang ma-solve ang problema." That doesn't mean that Matt doesn't lead, though. As his twin put it, "Matt is the leader on the court. That's the assignment Coach Tab [Baldwin] gave him and I think he has done well with that." Well, yeah, Matt has three rings as court general of the Blue Eagles' dynasty to show for that. LOL: Lead out Loud It was another court general altogether, however, who had made the biggest mark on Mike Nieto. While he never was a point guard due to his wide frame, he was always trying to emulate one of the best ball-handlers in the history of Philippine basketball. "Jimmy Alapag is my role model when it comes to leadership," he said. "I'm just very lucky that for a long time now, he would talk to me on how I can affect the team positively on and off the court." When Alapag was in his prime as captain of Gilas Pilipinas, Nieto was put on the pedestal as skipper of Batang Gilas. While he knew full well that was a tall task, he was also eager to prove himself worthy. "Sa Batang Gilas under coach Jamike [Jarin], he made me team captain kahit second year high school pa lang ako. But that made me realize na I have the capabilities of being a leader," he said. With that, Mike had the responsibility of making sure the likes of Paul Desiderio, Richard Escoto, Jollo Go, Jolo Mendoza, and Renzo Navarro were kept in line. And from then on, he just did not stop keeping at it. Whether it be as the Jrs. MVP as a Blue Eaglet or a rotation regular as a Blue Eagle, Nieto's biggest contribution has always been his leadership. "Being a leader is never easy. At the end of the day, you have to gain the trust of your teammates and your coaches - that's the hardest part," he said. Ask his teammates from high school, many of whom were still his teammates come college, and they would say they always have his back. "Buti na lang nakuha ko ang tiwala ng lahat ng tao na nakapaligid sa akin. Kaya rin ako nag-succeed being the team captain ng every team na nagiging part ako," he said. While he has always had the full faith of longtime teammates and good friends Thirdy Ravena, Gian Mamuyac, Mendoza, and of course, twin Matt, Mike could only acknowledge that it was another challenge altogether being the voice of the team that swept the season. "Ang malaking naging difference ngayong college from high school, kinailangan kong magsalita ng English mas madalas," he said, through chuckles. With foreigners such as Ange Kouame and Filipino-foreigners like Raffy Verano, Nieto, indeed, did have to make sure his communication lines were crystal clear. The thing about leaders, though, is that they give their all in anything and everything - whether that be giving a pep talk or passing the message to somebody like Kouame who only started learning English in 2017. IMO: In My Opinion And the thing about leaders? They do not necessarily care about themselves. Imagine Mike Nieto, a Jrs. MVP, a team captain for Batang Gilas, a literal blue-blood in Katipunan. Do you know his averages through their three-peat? In 47 games total, he saw 14.2 minutes of action and had 5.2 points and 3.7 rebounds per game. Still, that did not matter at all. All that mattered for Mike are all those Ws. "To be a leader, you have to prove palagi that you can lead on and off the court," he said. "I think yun ang napatunayan ko kay coach Tab - na handa akong i-sacrifice ang personal goals ko para sa ikabubuti ng team. Wala akong pakialam sa sarili ko since ang nasa utak ko lang is kung ano ang makabubuti para sa team namin." But did he? Did Nieto prove himself to Coach Tab - a coach who has gone around the world and seen it all? The talented tactician's statement right after Ateneo completed its perfect run through UAAP 82 speaks volumes. “Look at all of us and think about where we’re gonna be in 10 or 15 years, you’ll forget most of us,” he said in the post-game conference where he sat alongside the Nieto twins, Ravena, Isaac Go, and Adrian Wong. “But you won’t forget Mike Nieto.” Coach Tab then went on to explain why he said so. As he put it, "Mike is a natural leader. Mike is a communicator. Mike is a thinker. In terms of touching people, making lives better, and making sure that everybody around him has a better chance than what he has, that’s our captain." High praise coming from the very mentor who has been getting nothing but high praise. Safe to say, though, Mike has proven himself to coach Tab. TBC: To Be Continued In doing so, Mike Nieto has also made it possible for the two of them to continue working together. Mike, twin Matt, fellow Blue Eagle Go, University of the East's Rey Suerte, and San Sebastian College-Recoletos' Allyn Bulanadi were the first five names listed for the Gilas pool. The likes of Ravena, Dwight Ramos of Ateneo, Justine Baltazar of De La Salle University, Dave Ildefonso then of National University, and the University of the Philippines foursome of Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano, Kobe Paras, and Jaydee Tungcab also made the list not long after. But the fact remains that "Big Mike" - he of zero starts, but three titles in a row in his last three years in blue and white - was one of the first names there. With that, he is now one of the few Batang Gilas players who have successfully gotten promoted to the Men's team. "Of course, sino bang ayaw i-represent ang bansa natin, 'di ba? That's why I'm very grateful for this opportunity to be part of the Gilas pool," he said. He then continued, "That's why I've been working on my game even harder so that I can provide whatever Gilas needs from me." Of course, what Gilas would need from Nieto is, first and foremost, his leadership. After all, that is still and would always be his greatest strength. To do so, though, the youngster would have to prove himself yet again - not only to Filipinos who are forever invested in their national team, but more importantly, his teammates, many of whom are already superstars in the PBA. For Mike, however, this is nothing new - nothing new at all. "Ever since I was in grade school, people have been doubting that I can progress my game to the next level. What we can't forget is that at the end of the day, it's in your hands if you want to prove them wrong or prove them right," he said. He then continued, "I actually enjoy these kinds of moments since dito talaga lalabas ang totoong pagkatao mo. Ang sigurado ko lang, I will fight for my spot in Gilas." And so, from a successful high school career and then an even more successful college career, Nieto is now seeking success as part of the Gilas pool. Does he deserve to be there? That's for the haters to hate, the doubters to doubt, and the bashers to bash. And that's for Mike Nieto to lead them out of the darkness. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2020

Current Gilas model 'not sustainable' says Coach Yeng

Creating the most ideal format for the Philippine national team remains a fiercely-discussed topic. The latest to offer his two cents is NLEX head coach Yeng Guiao, the one who had Gilas Pilipinas play in the FIBA World Cup last year. According to Coach Yeng, the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas should have a working partnership with the PBA in order to keep the Gilas machine running. The SBP and the PBA have been working hand-in-hand, with a new cadet program in place even, but Guiao is not convinced that the current system can be sustainable in the long term. "To me, it's imperative that the federation should be able to work with the pro league, in our case it's the PBA. Because like the model we have right now, let's say you're taking players and you're looking forward to these players just playing for the national team and they're a separate group from the players playing in the pro league," Guiao said on Coaches Unfiltered. "I don't think that's sustainable. At a certain point, you have to break up that team and these players are going to play for the pro teams and you wait. You can do it one year or two years but after that you’re still going to break up and those guys will still wanna play a regular pro league team," coach Yeng added. As it stands, the current Gilas Pilipinas core is made up of five players led by Isaac Go. Go, together with the Nieto twins, Allyn Bulanadi, and Rey Suerte were the five picks in the special Gilas Draft last year. They all have their separate PBA mother teams but the agreement is that they're loaned to the national team through the 2023 FIBA World Cup. However, they do not have guaranteed slots in the final lineup as the current head coach still has the freedom to create his own best team, with the option to add PBA players or other amateur stars. The last Gilas team to play, against Indonesia in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers earlier this year, only Go and Matt Nieto made the team from the Gilas special draftees. "There is no national team in the world that is just a national team. There is no model like that anywhere in the world. Maski ano pang sport, all of these [players] are playing pros and then they’re being called for the national team," Guiao argues. "There is no team na oh kayo lang ang national team ha, exclusive kayong national team. There is no model like that," he added. While drafting players to focus on the national team seems like a great idea to form the foundation of the program, professional players are still going to be needed at some point. It only makes sense as one country's best players naturally play in the premier professional league. For Gilas Pilipinas to truly be competitive abroad, it will need the Philippines' best players. And those players are most likely found in the PBA, already under a grueling professional schedule. Where the national team fits in is the question. "I think it’s imperative for the SBP or the federation to work hand in hand with the PBA or the professional league. If we’re not able to do that, we’re not going to be able to send the best players for the toughest tournaments," Guiao said.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 24th, 2020

Kai Sotto in the 'NBA Radar' with G League stint

With Kai Sotto in the G League, all eyes will be on him. That's true for pretty much all local basketball fans as Kai attempts to become the first homegrown Filipino to play in the NBA. With Kai in the G League, NBA eyes will be on him as well. Just how well Sotto plays in the Select Team with other high-profile prospects like 2020 no. 1 Jalen Green could determine whether he gets drafted or not in a couple of years. "For now that was the best option because the people being the G League are also the NBA people. This is an NBA project," former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes said on Coaches Unfiltered about Kai's most latest move in the US. "It was good strategically for Kai to be there so that he's already in the "NBA radar" and part of the NBA family. It's going to improve his chances of eventually getting drafted," he added. Kai in the G League gives the 7'2" teen the best competition he can get as he prepares for the NBA. Armed with height, youth, and skill, harnessing all that potential really takes priority. Well, that and making sure his body is built for the big boy league. "For me, it's not really the skills. I have no worry about Kai's skills, he has all the skills for a basketball player. I think he's gained 22 or 24 pounds already? [And] there's specific movements that their working on with his bio mechanics. Those are the little things their working on," coach Chot said of Kai. "Being around Jalen Green and all that, that means everyday he's going to get top-level competition. That's what Kai needs. He needs to toughen up, sa tagalog tawag natin kailangan niya mabugbog," Reyes added. — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 9th, 2020

National U s historic championship was an Altamirano family affair

National University's 60-year title drought came to a close in 2014.  And according to head coach Eric Altamirano, it was already predetermined even before the season started. "Ang totoo nyan, nung offseason nun, puro kami talo, hindi talaga kami nananalo sa mga liga. One day, kasama ko si Luigi, kinukwento ko sa kanya na nag-struggle nga ang team," he shared in The Prospects Pod, referring to his second son.  He then continued, "Pero sabi ni Luigi, 'Dad magcha-champion tayo ngayon.' As I look back now, I remember that day na sinabi nga ni Luigi yun and nagkatotoo nga."  At the end of UAAP 77, Luigi proved prophetic, witnessing his dad guide the Bulldogs to a long-awaited and much-desired title.  Of course, the dominant defense, the difference-making presence of Alfred Aroga, and the total team effort of the blue and gold contributed to that.  At the same time, very much key was the all-out support of coach Eric's wife, children, and entire household.  "Tinuring nila kami na parang sarili nilang mga anak," pesky guard Pao Javelona shared. "Sobrang grateful ko kanila tita Marissa pati sa wives ng iba pang coaches kasi iba yung turing nila sa amin. Sobrang laking bagay ng mga Altamirano sa amin."  In the brilliant tactician's six-season stint in Sampaloc, wife Marissa, sons Anton and Luigi, daughter Aby, and several other members of the household were fixtures behind the scenes.  While coach Eric was, well, coaching, the other Altamiranos were also right there as much-welcome helping hands - on or off the court.  "Ako, tumira ako sa bahay nila, parang anak na talaga ang turing nila sa akin kasi sa iisang bubong lang kami nakatira," now-Gilas Pilipinas forward Troy Rosario said. "Pagpupunta kami ng practice, si coach Eric na nga gumigising sa akin. Si tita Marissa, lahat ng mga kailangan, kumpleto."  Indeed, in the same way that coach Eric changed the culture of basketball in National U, so did he and his family change the lives of his players. "Siguro, nung first three years ko sa NU, sobrang pasaway ako sa kanya. Talagang hindi ako sumusunod kasi may sarili akong mundo nun na parang sobrang bilib siguro ako sa sarili ko," versatile wing Glenn Khobuntin said.  He then continued, "Pero kung pinabayaan lang niya ako nun, hindi ko alam kung anong mangyayari sa life ko. Nadiretso buhay ko nung palagi pa rin niya akong kinakausap after practice."  Now, Khobuntin has the Altamiranos as the template for what he wants his own family to become. "When I had my own family na, doon ko na-realize kung bakit niya ginagawa yun. Parang gusto ko ngang magmura kapag naiisip ko e," he said.  He then continued, "Grabe. Sobrang thankful akong nakilala ko sila kasi hindi lang sa basketball yung impact nila sa akin e. Kung paano i-handle ni coach E yung family niya, ganun din gusto ko."  In the end, the team captain of the Bulldogs' UAAP 77 champion team could do nothing but express how much he loved his mentor.  "I love you, coach," Khobuntin said. "Thank you."  Without a doubt, his teammates only share the same sentiments.  ---  Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 26th, 2020

FIBA: Norwood puts up powerhouse group for his Asian All-Star team

After Jimmy Alapag, Gabe Norwood is the next Gilas Pilipinas legend to name his Asian All-Star team. [Related: FIBA: Coach Jimmy Alapag has 3 Gilas players in Asian All-Star team] But unlike Alapag, Norwood gave it a little twist and decided not to include any Filipino players on his team. On top of Gabe's lineup are Hamed Haddadi and Nikkah Bahrami, the power duo at the forefront of Iran's rise as a regional powerhouse. Lebanese star Fadi El Khatib also has a spot on Norwood's super team.         View this post on Instagram                   "If I could, I'd probably go with a straight #Gilas ???????? lineup but I'll change it in terms of not putting any Gilas members on," ???? @gnorwood5 . #FIBAAsiaCup A post shared by FIBA Asia Cup | Basketball (@fibaasiacup) on Jun 26, 2020 at 8:42am PDT "Definitely, Fadi and Nikkah are on there, hands down. Haddadi's on there," Norwood told the FIBA Asia Cup. Norwood's point guard spot belongs to Japan's Makoto Hiejima while Jordan's Zaid Abbas completes the five. "I was a fan of Hiejima. I think he's a really good player and somebody that I think is underrated in terms of in Asia," Gabe said. "One more, I'll go with Abbas from Jordan. I think he could still dunk from the free-throw line right now. I don't know how old he is but he's just a special talent," Norwood said.     — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 28th, 2020

Gilas goal in 2023 is second round of FIBA World Cup

Tab Baldwin is not resting on his laurels as Gilas Pilipinas program director even during the continuing COVID-19 crisis. Despite the pause in play in all of the Philippines, the seasoned mentor reiterated that plans remain in place for the future of the national team. "First of all, we have decided, as the SBP (Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas), on the direction we're going to go to," he said in the inaugural episode of Coaches Unfiltered. He then continued, "That is to build this program with an injection of youth looking forward to 2023 and ultimately, to 2027." Earlier in the year, the Gilas pool was announced and it had young stars such as Nieto twins Mike and Matt, Gomez de Liano brothers Javi and Juan, Allyn Bulanadi, Isaac Go, Dwight Ramos, Thirdy Ravena, Rey Suerte, and Jaydee Tungcab. The 2019 PBA Draft even had the Nietos, Bulanadi, Go, and Suerte be part of a so-called "special" selection process after which, in essence, they have been loaned by their mother teams to Gilas. The national team's close ties with the PBA would remain under Coach Tab's watch as program director. At the same time, though, the goal is for Gilas to not have to depend on the PBA too much. "Maybe in the early days, we'll be looking for the younger players to complement the PBA player injection, but as time goes by, the roles will reverse," he said. He then continued, "We'll be looking for PBA players to complement what we're trying to do with the young players that we're bringing in to be, basically, full-time Gilas players." The architect of Ateneo de Manila University's three-peat then said further that in the same light, change must come as well in terms of the national team's style of play and preparation. As he put it, "The other big umbrella that will govern what we will do is the philosophy that a smaller nation in basketball terms, an underdog nation, a nation that doesn't compete in the elite (level), but wants to compete in the elite (level), in my opinion, must develop a playing point of difference." For Coach Tab, Philippine basketball just could not do anymore what it had been doing since time immemorial. "What is insanity? Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result so insanity in terms of trying to compete at the elite level is trying to do what your opponents do with them having superior talent and experience and expecting to be able to beat them," he shared. He then continued, "With that, it means we're truly trying to look for something that will be a point of difference in terms of how we play." All things considered, the brilliant tactician remains upbeat about the Filipinos chances in the 2023 FIBA World Cup - and even in the 2027 edition of the world meet. "I think that in 2023, we want to be a team that will make a very, very strong run at the second round and, I think, even achieves that. Then by 2027, I think we want to be a team that has aspirations to be in the medal round," he said. --- Follow this writer on Twitter, @riegogogo......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2020

First title with TNT was the best for Ranidel De Ocampo

Before finally retiring from basketball, Ranidel De Ocampo sure had a colorful career in the PBA and for Gilas Pilipinas. RDO won six championships in the PBA and became a national team legend for his great work for Gilas. Retiring as one of the true greats, De Ocampo says there's two moments that really stood out from his career. "Syempre yung laban natin sa South Korea, FIBA-Asia 2013," RDO told Beau Belga on Extra Rice. Seven years ago, the Philippines beat South Korea in the semifinals of the 2013 FIBA-Asia Championships in Manila. The victory allowed the national team to advance to the 2014 FIBA World Cup in Spain. "Yung silver medal natin at naka-balik tayo sa World Cup, yun ang highlight ng career ko," De Ocampo added. In the PBA, RDO says his first-ever title is the best. After his Air21 Express lost the 2008 Fiest Conference Finals in seven games to Ginebra, RDO found himself traded to Talk 'N Text. De Ocampo's first game for Talk 'N Text was against the Express on Christmas Day 2008. He sank the final basket as TNT escaped with a 109-108 win. RDO ended up becoming the missing piece for the Tropang Texters that would go on to win the 2009 Philippine Cup, beating Alaska after seven games in the Finals. De Ocampo would be with TNT until 2017. "Sa PBA, yung first championship ko sa TNT. December 2008 ako na-trade, nag-champion ata kami January-February 2009," RDO said. "Kaka-trade ko lang, nag-champion agad. Kakagaling ko lang din sa Finals nun sa Air21, kalaban Ginebra nun. Tapos ito naman. Nung na-trade ako sa TNT, pakiramdam ko kailangang-kailangan nila ako nun, sobrang excited ako mag-laro, lahat sila gusto manalo. Sakto naman unang laro ko, naka-hit agad ako ng winning shot. Kaya yun ang pinaka-memorable sakin," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 4th, 2020

Tab Baldwin s six degrees of separation from The Last Dance

People might forget that for the longest time until he joined the Gilas Pilipinas team during the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships, Baldwin was a sworn disciple of the triangle offense that was popularized by Tex Winter. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsMay 7th, 2020

After Jimmy, Chot says LA, RDO, and Gabe would make great coaches

One can certainly make the argument that Chot Reyes' Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 has been the most successful so far in program history. Appearing on Ariel Vanguardia's Hoops Coaches International webinar, Coach Chot talked about the factors that made that national team great. Aside from pushing that national team physically and mentally, Gilas 2.0 also had an incredible collection of leaders on and off the court. "I’d like to say that I was a great leader but I was not the only leader in Gilas. Jimmy [was a great leader]. In Gilas, I had a team of leaders," Reyes said. "Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Marc Pingris, Ranidel De Ocampo… they were all leaders in their own ways. We had a team of leaders. That’s the kind of team you want to build, a team of leaders," he added. With such leaders and gifted basketball minds, it's not surprising that some of them have gone on to coach as well. Jimmy Alapag immediately comes to mind as he has his own team in the San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas in the ABL, even winning the league championship in 2018. Alapag also serves as one of Leo Austria's assistant coaches with the San Miguel Beermen. LA Tenorio has also dabbled into coaching while still active in the PBA with Ginebra, joining the staff of the Letran Knights in the NCAA. They won the Season 95 championship last year by taking down San Beda. The recently-retired Ranidel De Ocampo is also open to coaching as well. Reyes believes that the core of his Gilas 2.0 can likewise find success in coaching if they actually choose to do so. "You’re saying Jimmy is coaching now, Jimmy was already a coach even before he became a coach. Naglalaro pa lang siya, he had that mind already," Reyes said. "I think LA will become a great coach. Ranidel I think will turn out to be a pretty good coach, just because of his demeanor and understanding of the game. Gabe Norwood certainly, I think will turn out to be a very good coach as well. Everyone there will have their shot, but I think aside from Jimmy, it’s LA, Ranidel, and Gabe," Coach Chot added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2020

TNT, Bolts, Gilas, and 'block' on LeBron: Ranidel De Ocampo s PBA career in retrospect

Ranidel De Ocampo is retiring from basketball. Maraming salamat Panginoon! ???????? pic.twitter.com/LUeVDMAWVG — Ranidel De Ocampo (@jutaca33) April 13, 2020 Appearing on the 2OT podcast of PBA broadcasters Magoo Marjon and Carlo Pamintuan Monday, RDO made the surprise announcement about his career. "Marupok na eh, wala na. Dun na rin ako papunta eh, retire na," De Ocampo said. "Nagpapa-salamat ako kay Lord na binigyan Niya ako ng magandang career. Siguro time na para matapos na yung pagiging player," he added. Struggling with injuries, RDO only appeared in 19 games last season for the Meralco Bolts. He averaged 7.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 2.2 assists. De Ocampo will retire as a six-time PBA champion, two-time Finals MVP, one-time BPC, and winner of two silver medals with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA-Asia Championships. To celebrate of one of the very best power forwards in PBA history, here are some key moments in RDO's almost two-decade career. 2004 PBA Draft RDO was drafted 4th in the 2004 Draft, joining his older brother Yancy in the old FedEx Express. 2008 Fiesta Conference RDO joined a loaded Express team that was the no. 1 seed and saw action in the 2008 Fiesta Conference Finals. Unfortunately, RDO would lose his first Finals as Air21 failed to get the job done against Ginebra in Game 7. 2009 Philippine Cup Midway through the 2009 All-Filipino, TNT landed RDO in a trade. Talk 'N Text would be Ranidel's home for the bulk of his PBA career, and on his first conference as a Tropang Texter, he also won his first of six PBA titles after a 4-3 win over Alaska in the Finals. Gilas Pilipinas RDO made the lineup of the first three iterations of Gilas Pilipinas and played in the FIBA-Asia Championships. De Ocampo won two silver medals with the national team in 2013 and 2015. RDO also went to the FIBA World Cup in between in 2014. 2015 Commissioner's Cup RDO would win his final championship with TNT in the 2015 Commissioner's Cup. Facing Rain or Shine, De Ocampo took over in the second overtime of Game 7, leading the Tropang Texters to victory. Averaging over 24 points in the series, RDO won Finals MVP for the second and final time of his career.   Trade to Meralco In 2017, RDO was dealt to Meralco in a three-team trade. While he provided immediate help for the Bolts, even helping the team make a second straight trip to the Governors' Cup Finals, a strained calf sustained against Ginebra in the title series would prove to be the start of his battle with injuries that would ultimately force him to retire three years later.   "Blocking" LeBron James Also in 2017, RDO tried to block LeBron James from dunking when the King visited Manila and played an exhibition game at the MOA Arena. "Sa tingin ko, naging popular si LeBron dahil sa’kin," he said. Have a Ranidelightful retirement, RDO. [Related: RDO on failed block on LBJ: Naging popular si LeBron dahil sakin]   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 15th, 2020