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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: abscbn abscbnMay 2nd, 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

20 for 20: Pinoy Sports Personalities to Watch in 2020

As we enter a new decade, ABS-CBN Sports takes a look at 20 Pinoy sports personalities destined to shine in 2020.    Kiefer Ravena After an 18-month wait, Kiefer Ravena is finally back in basketball. Despite only playing in the PBA’s third conference, his impact was immediate, leading NLEX to the number 1 seed in the Governors’ Cup. The Road Warriors didn’t advance sure, but if Kiefer can impact a team that way in limited time, wait until you see what he can do with a full offseason.   Alex Eala At just 14 years old, Filipina tennister Alex Eala is already turning heads, and she’s yet to turn pro. With a runner-up finish at the ITF Mayor’s Cup in Osaka, Japan and her first ITF Juniors title in Cape Town, South Africa, Alex has had quite the fruitful year, leading to a career-best 11th-place ranking in the ITF Juniors table to finish the year.  Heading into 2020, Eala now has her sights set on turning pro as she plans to join more professional tournaments to raise her ranking even more. Expect the young tennis star to make even more headlines in the coming year.     Bryan Bagunas A vital cog in the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games, Bagunas is considered as one of the best Filipino volleyball players in this generation. Eyes will be on his blossoming international career playing as an import in the Japan V. Premier League.         Margielyn Didal While already a household name in Philippine skateboarding due to her success in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Margielyn Didal made even more waves in 2019. The 20-year old Cebuana reached the semifinals of the 2019 SLS World Championships in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and captured gold in the 2019 National Championships and the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.  Didal is currently looking to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and if she can do so, it’s highly likely that the Pinay skater can become an even bigger star in the industry.    Marck Espejo After his spectacular collegiate career with the Ateneo Blue Eagles, Marck Espejo's colorful career as part of the men's national volleyball team and in the club league continues to blossom. Just like Bryan Bagunas, Espejo will be showing his skills internationally with a stint in Thailand following a historic silver medal finish at the 30th SEA Games.   Yuka Saso After a decorated amateur career that saw her  participate in major tournaments such as the Ladies’ European Tour, the Summer Youth Olympics and claim top honors in the 2018 Asian Games, 2018 and 2019 Philippine Ladies Open, and the 2019 Girls’ Junior PGA Championship, 18-year old Pinay golfer Yuka Saso finally made the jump to pro in November of 2019.  With even more competitions in store plus a 2020 Tokyo Olympics berth in her crosshairs, it’s quite likely that we hear more about Saso in the coming months.  Carlos Yulo Perhaps no other young athlete in the Philippines shot to stardom faster than gymnastics phenomenon Carlos Edriel Yulo. After a gold medal finish in the floor exercise at the 2019 World Championships in Stuttgart, Yulo hauled in even more hardware in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games, taking home two more gold medals and five silvers.  Yulo’s spectacular 2019 earned him a spot in the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, and if his SEA Games and World Championships performances are any indication, Caloy is bound for another podium finish on the biggest stage there is.   Eya Laure Last UAAP season’s rookie of the year will return as the heir apparent of Season 81 MVP Sisi Rondina. With her national team stint, all eyes will be on the younger Laure as she reunites with older sister EJ as they try to bring University of Sto. Tomas back in the Finals after falling short last year. Hidilyn Diaz 2019 was another big year for Olympic silver medalist weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz, highlighted by her first ever gold medal in the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Diaz also finished with silver medals in the 2019 Asian Championships and a bronze in the 2019 World Championships.  All those podium finishes are crucial in Diaz’s quest for another Olympics berth in 2020. Should the 28-year lock up another spot in the Summer Games in Tokyo, we could see another Olympic medal coming home.    Kat Tolentino  After initially announcing that she would not come back for her final season in the UAAP, Kat Tolentino changed her decision and will suit up for the Ateneo Lady Eagles once last time, providing a great morale-booster in their bid for back-to-back titles. Tolentino’s leadership will be tested as she will be leading a young team.      Joshua Pacio 23-year old Joshua “The Passion” Pacio proved to be the brightest spot for Philippine MMA stable Team Lakay in 2019. After opening the year with a questionnable decision loss to Yosuke Saruta, Pacio silenced any doubts in the rematch and regained the ONE Strawweight World Championship with a highlight-reel headkick knockout. Pacio would follow that up with another masterful performance, this time with a second-round submission win over top contender Rene Catalan before the end of the year.  2020 is shaping up to become another banner year for the rising Pinoy star, as he’s scheduled for another title defense on January 31st in Manila, this time against former champ Alex Silva of Brazil. A win for Pacio will solidify his claim of being the best strawweight ever in ONE Championship history.     Louie Romero The Adamson University freshman displayed great potential during the pre-season when she piloted the Lady Falcons to title win in the PVL Season 3 Collegiate Conference. Romero is expected to be a gem of a setter for the young Adamson squad hoping make a return in the UAAP Final Four. Manny Pacquiao While eight-division world champion Manny Pacquiao is certainly in the twilight of his professional boxing career, 2019 showed that he is still one of the best around. A successful title defense over Adrien Broner followed by an impressive dismantling of the previously-undefeated Keith Thurman to capture the WBA’s primary world title proved that even at 40, Manny Pacquiao is still a big name in the sport.  With Pacquiao targeting an early return in 2020, more big names are lined up to fight “the People’s Champ”, including names like Danny Garcia, Shawn Porter, and even a title-unification bout against Errol Spence. Still, the biggest fight that is out there proves to be a rematch against Floyd Mayweather Jr, granted that “Money” finally bites.    Faith Nisperos A key addition for the repeat-seeking Ateneo de Manila University. The highly-touted rookie hitter will add height and firepower for the Lady Eagles in UAAP Season 82 women’s volleyball. In the previous PVL Collegiate Conference, Nisperos flashed her scoring prowess, exploding for 35 points in one outing.   Robert Bolick The two best rookies of 2019 were CJ Perez and Robert Bolick. We know what we can expect from CJ, but Bolick is an interesting case as 2020 will be his return from knee injury. Bolick could still win Rookie of the Year, but even if he doesn’t, his return to Northport could push the reloaded Batang Pier from a Cinderella team to full-on PBA title contender.   Joshua Retamar His playmaking skills as well as his efficiency on net defense during the national team’s silver medal finish in the 30th Southeast Asian Games makes him a setter to watch out for come UAAP. Retamar is an asset for National University’s three-peat bid.       Kai Sotto The Philippines' 7-foot-2, 17-year-old is opening eyes as he suits up for Atlanta-based The Skills Factory - so much so that he has already gotten interest from quite a few US NCAA schools. Before Sotto continues breaking the glass ceiling for Filipinos, though, he will go home for a while to wear the flag with Mighty Sports-Pilipinas in the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament.   Jema Galanza Coming off a great outing to close the PVL Season 3 highlighted by copping the Open Conference MVP award, expectations are high for Jema Galanza as Creamline aims to reclaim the PVL Reinforced Conference crown and complete an Open Conference three-peat.      Kobe Paras Many questioned just what the 6-foot-6 tantalizing talent would bring to the table for UP - but more often than not, he had all the answers as he led the Fighting Maroons to their second straight Final Four. In the end, Paras was actually the steadying force State U needed in what was a hyped up season. They may not have made it back to the Finals, but they still got much more motivation as they run it back for next year.   Pat Aquino What's next for the most decorated mentor in women's basketball? Pat Aquino followed up a six-peat for National U with the Philippines' first-ever gold medal in women's basketball in the SEA Games. Without a doubt, he will only continue steering the sport forward especially as the likes of UST and FEU are already gearing up to put up greater challenges in the new year.   Isaac Go Isaac Go is technically not the no. 1 pick of the 2019 PBA Draft but he is without a doubt, the no. 1 prospect of the year. His top selection from the special Gilas Pilipinas Draft is proof of that. Gilas Pilipinas has the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers on deck in 2020 and as a new era dawns on the national team, all eyes will be on the biggest piece for the future that’s already drafted into the new Philippine squad......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

FIBA: Alapag humbled and honored to be considered as next Gilas coach

MACAU — Gilas Pilipinas has no head coach following Yeng Guiao’s resignation last week. Several names have been mentioned as possible replacements and one such name has been that of Jimmy Alapag. Alapag, who hit perhaps the most significant shot in Gilas history back when he was still playing, has seen the posts and comments on social media. Coach Jimmy is honored to be mentioned but says that kind of stuff is way out of his control. “It’s hard to comment because that decision-making process is out of my control. But I’ve seen the comments and it’s humbling,” Alapag told a handful of Filipino reporters here. “It’s an abosolute honor. You all know how much the Gilas program means to me,” he added. Gilas legend Jimmy Alapag is humbled and honored to be considered as next head coach of the national team ????????????#Gilas #GilasPilipinas #FIBAWC #PBA2019 pic.twitter.com/v76EHNOgOI — Paul Kennedy Lintag (@paullintag8) September 17, 2019 Coach Yeng’s resignation from Gilas came at the heels of the national team’s last-place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Despite losing by a combined 147 points in China, Alapag says Gilas is still more than capable of competing against the world’s best, it’s just a matter of putting it all together overall. The countdown for the national team is at four years as the country will be the main host of the 2023 World Championships. “This last World Cup, it was tough. I think we all know it wasn’t our best performance and we’re capable of much better. It happens,” Alapag said. “Rather than blame anyone or anything like that, it’s just a matter of how can we move forward and be better. We have time to prepare but that time will pass really fast so it’s gonna be important for whoever makes the decision that we understand what we want to do,” he added. There’s no clear favorite on who will take over as head coach for Gilas Pilipinas. But if Alapag gets the call, he’s ready to go. “I would be ready,” he said. “I think that job is a unique opportunity but it’s also a huge responsibility. We all know how passionate we are about basketball, I share that same passion. If ever that were the case, we’ll see,” Alapag added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 17th, 2019

Alapag: Bolick, Perez future stars

PBA legend Jimmy Alapag singled out NorthPort’s Robert Bolick and Terra Firma’s CJ Perez as players with a bright future in the pro league during The Philippine STAR sports talk show “Beyond The Game With The Dean,” adding that he’s a big fan of the young bucks who suited up for Gilas at the FIBA World Cup in China last year......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsAug 14th, 2020

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:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 10th, 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

Whatever happened to Gilas Pilipinas 1.0?

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 1.0? Main tournament: 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships @ Wuhan, China Prize: 1 automatic ticket to the 2012 London Olympics Result: 4th place (lost to Jordan in semis, lost to South Korea in bronze medal game) Head coach: Rajko Toroman Coach Rajko’s previous history before becoming the first coach of the Gilas program was leading Iran to its first-ever Olympics appearance in Beijing just four years prior. Toroman was tasked to lead another national team to the Olympics, but his Philippine team mostly made up of amateur stars fell two wins short of London. Coach Rajko’s Gilas stint ended after the 2011 Asian Championships. He’s still recently connected to the Philippine team, albeit this time as an opponent. He now coaches Indonesia and his national team took on Gilas last December in the SEA Games in in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers last February.   The Players: #4 Mark Barroca After his unceremonious exit from FEU, Mark Barroca was selected into the original Gilas team and was a major revelation especially during the national team’s earlier tune-up games against PBA teams and when they actually went to the semifinals of the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup. After their semifinals stint in Wuhan, Barroca was part of the loaded 2011 Gilas Draft, picked 5th by Shopinas before being shipped to B-Meg. Barroca has stayed with the Purefoods franchise since, a 6-time PBA champion and two-time Finals MVP. He won the Grand Slam with the team in 2014. #5 Asi Taulava Asi was one of the PBA players chosen to reinforce a mostly-amateur Gilas team in 2011. At the time, Taulava was a Meralco Bolt but would become an ABL MVP and champion with San Miguel Beer in the ABL two years later. The 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships was Asi’s third straight appearance in the tournament. He was with the 2007 team in Tokushima and was also part of the 2009 team that competed in Tianjin. While Taulava was already almost 40 here, it won’t be his last stint with Gilas Pilipinas just yet. #6 Jvee Casio The former La Salle star was one of the main pillars of the original Gilas team, putting off the PBA Draft for two years in order to play for the national team. Proof of Casio’s standing in the original Gilas team was him being selected first overall during the 2011 Draft. With the Powerade Tigers, Casio, with Gilas teammate Marcio Lassiter, made the Philippine Cup Finals as a no. 8 seed in 2012. In 2013, Casio won his first and so far, only title in the Commissioner’s Cup with the Alaska Aces. #7 Jimmy Alapag Alapag was one of the three TNT players in the original Gilas team. It was Jimmy’s first stint in the national team since 2007. He was not chosen for the 2009 FIBA-Asia Championships. Jimmy didn’t see heavy minutes with the original Gilas, but he was the national team’s most reliable marksman and shot 40 percent from deep. Seeing action in 2011 means that Alapag is a Gilas original, and his first appearance with the program would not be his last, it’s also not his best. #8 Chris Tiu Arguably the face of Gilas Pilipinas when the program first started, Chris Tiu went from a successful UAAP career in Ateneo to being captain of the national team. Tiu didn’t play the most minutes and didn’t have the best numbers, but he probably put in the most work out of everyone for the original Gilas team. After Gilas, Tiu joined the PBA Draft in 2012 and was selected by Rain or Shine. He won the Commissioner’s Cup title in 2016 and retired from basketball after the 2018 season. #9 Japeth Aguilar Japeth Aguilar was still pretty raw during 2011 for the original Gilas team. In Wuhan, he played the least out of all the players, appearing in only five games. Nevertheless, Aguilar would become a constant for the national team after his first stint in 2009. Aguilar would find his way to Ginebra in the PBA and won four of his five titles with the team. He’s the league’s most recent Finals MVP and is still playing for Gilas Pilipinas. #10 Mac Baracael Mac Baracael making the original Gilas team was a miracle all in itself. After being shot in the back as an FEU Tamaraw, Baracael made a full recovery and was selected into the national team and was a role player in the 2011 Asian Championships. Baracael was taken 6th by Alaska in the 2011 Draft and had a short but mostly solid but forgettable career in the league. #11 Marcus Douthit Marcus Douthit was the solid rock that formed the foundation of the original Gilas Pilipinas team. After a long search, the national team tapped the former Providence center as naturalized player and in his first Asian Championships, Douthit didn’t disappoint. “Kuya Marcus” led the tournament in both points and rebounds, averaging 21.9 points per game and 12.2 rebounds. He was also tied for third in blocks with 1.7 rejections per outing. Douthit was already 31 at the time, but he most definitely proved that the Gilas program can work and the national team can be successful if you put a solid anchor around the country’s most skilled players. #12 Kelly Williams In his first and only stint with Gilas Pilipinas, Kelly Williams started at power forward. At this point in his career, Williams wasn’t exactly the player that took the PBA by storm and won MVP in his second season, but he was still explosive enough to give the national team quality minutes. Kelly’s role with the original Gilas has mostly mirrored his career in his later years, being the scrappy veteran at forward for teams with younger, faster players. #13 Marcio Lassiter Despite not playing in Gilas’ first two games of the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships due to eligibility issues, Lassiter ended up as the national team’s second leading scorer behind Douthit. Marcio actually struggled shooting in his Gilas Pilipinas debut, shooting less than 40 percent from the field and a woeful 21 percent from deep. Regardless, he was seen as the future of the national team, and it’s quite unfortunate that it took him a while to get back after his initial stint in Wuhan. In the PBA, Lassiter was picked 4th in the 2011 Draft by Powerade, joining Gilas teammate and no. 1 pick Jvee Casrio. Marcio was later traded to San Miguel and is now an 8-time champion. #14 Chris Lutz Like Lassiter, Chris Lutz missed two games in Wuhan due to eligibility issues. Like Lassiter, Lutz also struggled shooting the ball once he did play and wound up with the least total points for the original Gilas Pilipinas in 2011. Regardless, Lutz was a highly-touted recruit and was picked 3rd by San Miguel (then known as Petron) in the 2011 Draft and went on to average 15.4 points and 3.5 assists in his rookie year. However, Lutz’ career in the PBA ended up being short, as injuries ended up being his downfall. He was officially traded to Meralco in 2017, but is yet to resurface. #15 Ranidel De Ocampo RDO partnered with TNT teammate Kelly Williams to for a reliable power forward duo for the original Gilas Pilipinas. Never the flashy one, De Ocampo would become a reliable contributor for Gilas for years to come, and the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championships was first proof of that. RDO was top-5 in points, rebounds, and assists for Gilas Pilipinas in 2011.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8 .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 6th, 2020

FIBA: June Mar key part of Gilas despite Asia Cup pool snub

The initial 24-man lineup for Gilas Pilipinas for the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers is out and it has a mix of amateur and PBA players. Counting the five players taken during the special Gilas Draft last December, there are 13 amateurs in the new Gilas pool. The rest are made up of PBA players, including the returning Marc Pingris. Curiously enough, many-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo is not in the initial pool. Accoring to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas President Al Panlilio, Gilas is looking at fielding the younger players of the pool first. “As we said in the recent past, this is a development plan for the national team in preparation for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup,” Panlilio said in a statement first relayed by sportscaster Paolo Del Rosario. “It’s the early days in our program so we wanted to test youngsters who may be deserving of a shot in future big tournaments,” Panlilio added. Panlilio also believes that June Mar deserves an extended break after following his previous national team stints and brutal PBA schedule with San Miguel Beer. Still, the SBP says that the Kraken is an integral part of the Gilas program. “Fajardo remains a big part of the future for the Gilas program,” Panlilio said. “He will in fact be at his peak form when the WC2023 comes along. We will need his dominance and international experience and we assure all his supporters that they will see Fajardo wearing a Gilas jersey in the near future,” he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 10th, 2020

Must-see sports events for 2020

The sports and the action never stop. That will only continue as we usher in a new year. PBA in January The 44th season of the PBA is far from over as Ginebra and new-age rival Meralco are all-set to go at it for all the glory in the Governors’ Cup Finals. The first and oldest professional league in Asia will then take a two-month break before tipping off its next season in March. There, rookies like Roosevelt Adams and Mike Ayonayon will make their much-anticipated debuts during the Philippine Cup Dubai International Basketball Tournament in January Javi and Juan Gomez de Liano. Kai Sotto. Dave Ildefonso. Jamie Malonzo. Andray Blatche. That is the core Mighty Sports-Pilipinas has come up with for the 2020 Dubai International Basketball Tournament. That young and talented lineup is sure to go all-out as it tries to improve on its third-place finish in the invitational tourney a year ago. NCAA volleyball in January Arellano will protect its throne from several oncomers in the brand new season of NCAA women’s volleyball while Perpetual hopes to do the same over at the men’s side. The Lady Chiefs will follow the lead of Regine Arocha, as always, as they set out for a fourth consecutive championship. UAAP volleyball in February Ateneo ended La Salle’s three-year reign last season and now, the archrivals remain in championship contention in UAAP women’s volleyball alongside UST and FEU. National U is also out to extend its rule in the men’s tournament even as the likes of FEU and Ateneo are ready and raring to put up a new challenge. Gilas Pilipinas in February The Olympic dream is yet to turn into reality for Gilas Pilipinas, but the Philippine national team remains primed for more international action in the first-ever FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers. There, the Filipinos will fight over the right for an automatic advance into the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup. NBTC in March The best of the best young talent in the Philippines come together anew in the latest National Basketball Training Centre League National Finals. There, NCAA king San Beda and UAAP title favorite National U are poised to wage war with the other champions from all over the country. And of course, the All-Star game is and will always be a must-watch. NCAA basketball in July For the first time in quite a while, it’s not San Beda that has a target on its back in NCAA basketball. Instead, it will be Letran which will have to fend off the hungrier Red Lions as well as determined LPU, San Sebastian, and Mapua. Tokyo Olympics in July The Olympics are upon us once more and this time, it is closer than ever to home as Japan hosts the world meet in Tokyo. Already headed there while wearing the flag are EJ Obiena for men’s pole vault as well as Carlos Yulo for artistic gymnastics. UAAP basketball in September Ateneo remains on top of UAAP men’s basketball, but will now defend its title without the championship core of Thirdy Ravena, Isaac Go, Adrian Wong, and Nieto twins Mike and Matt. In Women’s action, National U is still the standard, but teams such as UST and FEU keep coming closer and closer. ABL is ongoing A new champion will be crowned in ABL 10 and as of right now, San Miguel Alab Pilipinas is at the head of the pack. MPBL is ongoing The Philippines’ only regional league is only getting bigger and better in its third tournament, the Lakan Season, which continues to roll along......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 1st, 2020

Pinoy Basketball in 2019: High, low, and then High again

Another year, another time when basketball literally did not stop in the Philippines. There was a lot to see when it came to Pinoy hoops in 2019, as if everyone was trying to make sure to end the decade on a bang. It was definitely a pretty hectic year for Philippine basketball, proving time and again that ball truly is life.   SPIDER-MEN, GRAND SLAMS, AND EPIC TRILOGIES The PBA is technically still not over, with the 2019 PBA Governors’ Cup stretching all the way to mid January 2020. The country’s top league for sure had a lot happening, perhaps most infamously being in the 2019 Philippine Cup Finals when a random fan dressed as the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man stormed the court late in Game 5 between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia. Safe to say, things got crazy. The other PBA Spider-Man, Arwind Santos, saw his signature dunk banned by the league. He also got fined P200k for hurling racial gestures against an opposing import and is now indefinitely suspended by his own team for fighting against his own import. All that with Peter Parker having his identity revealed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (*spoiler alert*) and it’s just been a pretty wacky year for Spider-Men. San Miguel also tried to win a Grand Slam this year, it looked great too as the Beermen won their second title despite being a no. 7 seed and were undefeated almost halfway through the third conference. But just like this current batch of Beermen’s first Grand Slam attempt, they never really got close as Barangay Ginebra ended the bid in round 1 of the Governors’ Cup. Oh and speaking of the Gin Kings, they’re back in the Governors’ Cup Finals... against Meralco. Oh yes, we’re getting a Trilogy. If that’s not the way to start a whole new decade then we don’t know what is.   HIGH, LOW, AND THEN HIGH AGAIN Switching over to Gilas Pilipinas, the national team was pretty busy this year, which is one of the way reasons why the current PBA season is getting dragged all the way to the next decade. After a gloomy ending in 2018, Gilas showed us where the lights shine brightest by booking a trip to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Gilas overcome freezing weather in Kazakhstan to advance, making sure that the Philippines will be stringing together three straight World Cup appearances. Once Gilas got to China though, it appeared that the national team got blinded by said bright lights. Loss after loss after loss after loss after loss, the Philippines ended up finishing in 32nd place out of 32 teams, setting the Gilas program back a couple of notches. But 2019 will not be a lost year though, as Gilas put together an incredible loaded team to put on a show in the Southeast Asian Games in Manila. Win after win after win after win after win, the Philippines ended up with a 13th straight gold medal in the SEA Games.   FLAMING OUT Fresh from a first ABL title in 2018, San Miguel-Alab Pilipinas was off to a sizzling start for the 2019 season, opening with eight straight wins. The team returned most of its title-winning core from the season prior and added behemoth PJ Ramos as a second import. Even with losses here and there, Alab maintained its number one ranking for most of the year... that is until injuries caught up to the team. Alab flamed out it its title defense, first losing the no. 1 seed to Formosa and then getting swept out of the opening round of the playoffs by Hong Kong Eastern, the team they swept in the semis the year before. Ultimately, Alab lost six straight games on its way to giving up its title. Fortunately, Alab has ended the decade with a four-game run and Jimmy Alapag’s crew is currently tied for first place in the new 2019-2020 season.   BRAND NEW KNIGHTS After a banner first conference, the MPBL quickly expanded to an incredible 26 teams. Following a crazy season with 364 games played, and old MBA dynasty in the San Juan Knights emerged as champions, taking down Davao Occidental in a classic five-game series for the title. The Knights’ title conquest came in the middle of the year and the MPBL is back in action, with 31 teams battling it out in the ongoing Lakan Cup. 2019 saw a ton of basketball games to be played, and 2020 looks like there’s no slowing down in terms of hoops action. Let’s get to it.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 26th, 2019

Love at peace, not worried about trade chatter

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Kevin Love knows change could be coming. A couple of years ago, uncertainty might have been something that stressed him out, triggered the sorts of feelings like the ones that manifested themselves in the form of an in-game panic attack in 2017, rendered him unable to compete as efficiently as he wanted. Not this time. Even though he has three full years and about $90 million left on his contract after this season, it’s no secret that Love could be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers. Plenty of teams even make sense for such a move — Portland, Dallas, Denver, Miami among others. But going public with the details of his panic attack — and his ongoing involvement in the conversation about the need to take care of mental health — has not left Love feeling vulnerable. He’s more at peace than anything else, and that’s why the rumors that are out there aren’t gnawing at him. “I’m just going to let the chips fall,” Love said. “I know that this is a young team. I think I can help them. I’m going to do right by Cleveland, the organization. This is a league where teams want to rebuild, teams want to go young but certain teams are looking for a piece, a guy who’s played in the finals, a guy who has playoff experience. I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think it definitely lessens the burden and the anxiety.” Cleveland is 5-12 and Love missed Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) game against Brooklyn with back issues. Now in his 11th season, the five-time All-Star can still play — he’s averaging 17.9 points and 11.8 rebounds, is a 36% shooter from 3-point range and won a ring with the Cavs in 2016. Even with him, the Cavs are likely a long shot for a playoff spot in the East. But Love insists that he isn’t forcing a change. “I’ve been committed to Cleveland since Day 1,” Love said. “I know it’s been a little shaky at some points. It’s been really great at some points. But now I’ve found some semblance of balance in my life, not only on the court but away from it.” Love also doesn’t shy away from the mental health questions. Players like Love and DeMar DeRozan helped bring the conversation into the NBA mainstream by opening up about their own private and personal issues. “I kind of played all my cards and spoke my truth,” Love said. “I just feel like there’s not a lot out there that could really hurt me. I feel like, not only for other people but selfishly for myself, it’s been very therapeutic.” HISTORY LESSON The Spurs are in trouble. Monday’s (Tuesday, PHL time) loss to the Lakers dropped San Antonio to 6-12, and seeing that is all anyone would probably need to realize that the Spurs’ record-tying 22-year streak of postseason appearances is in major jeopardy. But the numbers really hammer the point home. Over the last 14 seasons, not including this one, there have been 103 instances of teams starting 6-12 or worse. Of those, only four have made the postseason — and none of those four came from the Western Conference. And the last time the Spurs were under the .500 mark 18 games into a season was 1995-96, when they started 3-15. That’s the point where they fired Bob Hill for a guy named Gregg Popovich. “They’re going to be OK,” said Charlotte coach James Borrego, a former longtime Spurs assistant, who crossed paths with Popovich in Washington recently. “At the end of the day, he’s coaching his team, I’m coaching my team. I know what they’re going through. But they’ve been in this territory before. I don’t know if they’ve lost as much as they’ve lost this early, but they’ll bounce back. There’s high character there. They know what they’re doing.” The last West team to start 6-12 or worse and get into the playoffs was the 2004-05 Memphis Grizzlies, who began 5-11, went through two different coaches before bringing in Mike Fratello. He fashioned a 40-26 finish, the Grizzlies sneaked into the playoffs at 45-37 and as the eighth seed. They got swept in the first round. The NBA champions that year? San Antonio. KEMBA’S NECK Boston guard Kemba Walker took a scary hit last week when he collided with teammate Semi Ojeleye during the Celtics’ game at Denver. The way Walker fell, and how he had to leave the game on a stretcher, understandably raised plenty of concern. He was diagnosed with a sprained neck, which was probably about the best possible outcome given how bad the play looked in real time. Perhaps overlooked is this: The sprain is Walker’s second neck issue in less than three months. He played some games for USA Basketball at the FIBA World Cup in China in September while dealing with neck pain, which intensified to the point that he sat out the Americans’ finale there — the seventh-place game in Beijing against Poland. MIGHTY MAVS With MVP candidate Luka Doncic leading the way, Dallas is flying. The Mavericks have scored 137 points or more in each of their last three games. Only two teams in league history have gone on longer such streaks — Denver in November 1988 and Portland in November 1990, both of those being four-game runs. The Mavs have reached the 125-point mark five times already this season. That matches their total from all of last season. THE WEEK AHEAD A game to watch each day in the coming week: (PHL times listed) Wednesday, L.A. Clippers at Dallas: Doncic is rolling right now. Here comes a very big test. Thursday, L.A. Lakers at New Orleans: Welcome back to New Orleans, Anthony Davis. Friday, Happy Thanksgiving: It’s one of the days the NBA has no games on the schedule. Saturday, Boston at Brooklyn: A noon start time. Could it be Kyrie Irving versus the Celtics? Sunday, Charlotte at Milwaukee: For some reason, few seem to be talking about the Bucks. Next Monday, Memphis at Minnesota: Through Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant averaged 19 ppg. Next Tuesday, Utah at Philadelphia: A matchup of really good teams that usually put defense first......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 26th, 2019

Kiefer looks at rare five-peat

Kiefer Ravena gets his shot at a personal five-peat, Chris Ross his long-desired debut for Gilas Pilipinas, and Matthew Wright and Marcio Lassiter their return to national duties after being forced out of action by injuries in the last FIBA Basketball World Cup......»»

Category: sportsSource:  philstarRelated NewsNov 24th, 2019

PBA: Pogoy hopes for second shot at Gilas as shooting returns with TNT

Shooting was pretty bad for Gilas Pilipinas in the 2019 FIBA World Cup, resulting to a last place finish. As a whole, the national team shot just 25.2 percent from deep, making an average of a little over seven makes a game or a total of 36 triples in five outings. In China, TNT's RR Pogoy shot 3/12 from deep. He actually only made eight shots in total in the World Cup. Fortunately, shooting is good nowadays for national team players now that they're back in the PBA, and that includes Pogoy. In the win against Phoenix Wednesday in the 2019 Governors' Cup, RR shot 9/16 from the field for 22 points. Pogoy also made 4/5 from three-point range. He couldn't help but wonder what could have been if he shot better in China. "Palagi ko sinasabi, magbigay talaga ako ng oras para ma-practice yung shooting ko. Sana nung World Cup ganun no?" Pogoy said. "Nakaka-disappoint kasi nung World Cup sobrang panget ng shooting ko tapos dito maganda," he added. Aside from his TNT duties, Pogoy is still in the national team pool. The next tournament for Gilas is the 2019 Southeast Asian Games. Pogoy wants another chance with the national team and if he makes coach Tim Cone's lineup, he looks to contribute a lot more. "First time din kasi eh [World Cup]. Siguro mabigyan pa ng second chance. Sana makabawi," Pogoy said. "Kung ma-lineup man sa SEA Games, maka-tulong naman," he added.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 3rd, 2019

Ben Simmons fell in love with basketball again

By Rob Maaddi, Associated Press PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Videos of Ben Simmons making jumpers flooded social media over the summer and the All-Star point guard is ready to take his game to another level when the Philadelphia 76ers open camp next week. “I feel like this summer I fell in love with the game again,” Simmons told The Associated Press on Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). “I kind of got back to who I was and having fun with the game. I felt like the past season I lost that enjoyment side of it but I feel like this summer has been huge for me. Just the work I’ve been putting in, I kinda fell in love with putting that work in again and I’ve been in the gym every day working and the results have been paying off so I’m excited for the season to start. Simmons, the No. 1 overall draft pick in 2016, has helped lead the Sixers to the second round of the NBA playoffs two straight seasons after making his debut in 2017. He was the Rookie of the Year that season and an All-Star for the first time last season. Simmons has averaged 16.4 points, 8.5 rebounds and 7.9 assists and signed a $170 million, five-year contract extension in July. Philadelphia is 101-58 in regular-season games when Simmons plays. He has had 22 triple-doubles in the past two seasons, tied for third most in the league with Denver’s Nikola Jokic and trailing Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook (59) and the Los Angeles Lakers’ LeBron James (26). Simmons also has had 80 double-doubles over the past two seasons. But the one knock against Simmons has been his reluctance to shoot long jumpers and three-pointers. He’s 0-for-18 from beyond the arc, so defenses often focus on taking away his ability to drive to the basket and dare him to shoot. He’s up for the challenge. “I’m ready to be who I am as a player, continue to develop, keep working,” Simmons said. “It’s a process. It takes time. Obviously, people always want to see results straightaway but that’s not how things work.” Simmons decided to focus on improving his game instead of playing for the Australian team at the FIBA World Cup earlier this month in China. He rediscovered his love for basketball during those long hours in the gym and admitted the criticism weighed on him at times. “I think sometimes you kind of get too deep into it where you listen to other people which should never be the thing you do unless they’re giving you positive feedback or trying to help you get better because there’s a lot of negativity out there,” Simmons said, pointing to various social media platforms. “It’s huge once you kind of block that out, you don’t really care, you kinda go out there feeling free. You don’t care if you miss a shot because everyone misses a shot so that’s one of the things that I think this summer I got back to how I was as a player just playing and doing what I love at a high level.” Despite being a lightning rod for criticism in Philadelphia, Simmons says he enjoys playing in front of a passionate fan base. “I love being in Philadelphia. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” he said. “I think this is the perfect place for me. I just handle (criticism) how it comes.” Simmons heard plenty of boos after a poor performance in Philadelphia’s first-round series opener against Brooklyn in April. He had nine points, seven rebounds, and three assists and shot 1-for-5 from the free throw line in a loss. Afterward, Simmons said: “If you’re gonna boo, then stay on that side.” Simmons answered with his second career playoff triple-double in Game 2, finishing with 18 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds as Philadelphia reeled off four straight wins. He looks back at it as a learning experience. “I had a terrible first game and I loved it when people are tweeting me saying all these negative things because the next game I came out (and played better),” Simmons said. “It kinda fires me up a little.” Why does he even pay attention to the critics flexing their keyboard muscles? “It’s hard to avoid. It’s hard to not see,” Simmons said. “I’ve done a better job of not watching certain things in terms of what people are saying but that was a good example of people not giving me positive feedback and I had to respond.” The Sixers revamped their roster in the offseason, losing Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick and adding Al Horford and Josh Richardson and retaining Tobias Harris to play with Simmons and fellow All-Star Joel Embiid. “We’re locked in. We’re ready to play,” Simmons said. “We’ve been in the gym. We’ve been there early. We’re competing trying to get each other better from the rooks to the guys who are vets. I think it’s going to be an exciting year for the 76ers.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 26th, 2019

FIBA World Cup By the Numbers: Reality check for Gilas

In the end, not even Gilas Pilipinas’ best start in the 2019 FIBA World Cup ended with a win. The Philippines bowed to Iran Sunday to end the World Championships. Gilas Pilipinas will head home from China with five losses. Gilas will also come home wih valuable lessons learned from a tough trip. Let’s wrap this thing up with a final By the Numbers for Team Philippines.   -147 With a 0-5 record, Gilas Pilipinas is guaranteed to finish in the bottom four of the 2019 FIBA World Cup. As of right now, the Philippines is in last place. Japan (-115) and Jordan (-132) still play one game and if they both win, Gilas will finish last. If they both lose, they need to have worse point differential than the Filipinos or else, the Philippines will keep its last place finish in the 2019 FIBA World Cup.   6 Total three-pointers connected by Gilas in the opening period. It was the best shooting start for the Philippines in the World Cup, making 6/11 from deep in the first 10 minutes. Then Gilas went cold. The national team went 5/16 the rest of the way and lost by 20.   24 Total points scored by Gilas in the opening period. The Philippines trailed by six to Iran after one, 24-30. Gilas only scored 26 in the second and third quarters however and the Iranians put the game away. After three, Iran was up, 75-50, and ended the game with a 95-75 win.   12 Total points for Andray Blatche. In what could be Andray’s final game for Gilas, the big man shot 4/12 for 12 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. He also had five fouls, the last two being technicals in the fourth quarter that led to his ejection.   4 Number of years before the next World Cup in 2023. The Philippines will co-host with Japan and Indonesia, with Manila serving as the primary. Gilas is qualified for that World Cup but it would take quite a few changes in order to not see a repeat of this 2019 performance. We’ll see if that’s the case in 2023.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 8th, 2019

Towering Iran stands in way of Gilas Pilipinas last-gasp bid

BEIJING, China – Gilas Pilipinas has one last shot to clinch a win in the FIBA World Cup, but standing in its way is a complete and rejigged Iran side led by superstars Hamed Haddadi and Nikkah Bahrami. Unlike the shorthanded crew the Philippines faced in the Asian Qualifiers late ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsSep 7th, 2019

FIBA: Same nightmares haunt Gilas in latest World Cup beating

Once again, Gilas Pilipinas’ chances of winning a game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup pretty much evaporated inside the first 10 minutes of play. To start the classification phase against African champions Tunisia Friday in Beijing, Gilas gave up the opening score and then turned the ball over twice in its first two possessions. That gave Tunisia an early 6-0 lead which they would later carry into a 27-10 lead after the first quarter. Ultimately, it ended up being an 86-67 win for the Tunisians. So pretty much the same, old story for Gilas Pilipinas. There’s really nothing positive about it at this point as the national team took a fourth straight beating. “We started the game flat,” forward Troy Rosario said. “We played good defense in the second half but the lead was too much [to overcome],” he added. Aside from turning the ball over early, Gilas’ offensive woes followed them from Foshan to the Chinese capital city of Beijing. The Philippines only shot 40 perent from the field and connected on 8/23 three-point shots. Only Andray Blatche finished in double figures with 24 points. Rosario was the second leading scorer for Gilas with eight points. “We’re still not making our shots. As a small team, we need to hit our outside shots,” head coach Yeng Guiao said. “It so happened that they were making their outside shots and getting to the basket. That was the problem all game long,” he added. Now stuck with a 0-4 record in Group N, Gilas Pilipinas will try to get that elusive win as they end the World Cup with a showdown against Iran Sunday.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 6th, 2019

FIBA: Serbia eliminates Gilas from World Cup with 59-point win

The Gilas Pilipinas loss to Italy was bad but it somehow got worse as the national team ran into a gold-medal favorite in Serbia. The Philippines fought hard but Serbia was just too overwhelming with its star power Monday and the world no. 4 Serbians took a 126-67 victory in Group D play of the 2019 FIBA World Cup at the Foshan International Sports & Cultural Arena. Coming off a 46-point beatdown to Italy Saturday, Gilas was noticeably sharper to start against the Serbians. The national team even took its first lead of the World Cup as a Paul Lee jumper pushed the Philippines ahead, 9-7. However, that didn’t last long and Serbia unloaded a 21-4 run to end the opening period. Gilas got to within 11 multiple times in the second quarter as CJ Perez and Robert Bolick were once again amazing for the national team. But the top PBA rookies’ effort was not enough especially when Serbia sent its best 5 on the floor led by Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic. The Serbians piled up the points and had a commanding 27-point lead at halftime, shooting 68 percent from the field. Led by Bogdan Bogdanovic, the Serbians increased their shooting percentage and dropped the hammer in the third period, outscoring Gilas, 37-13, to almost double their lead, 99-48. It was cruise control for Serbia in the fourth as they finished up with a 59-point victory, joining Italy to the second round of the World Cup as Group D representatives. The Serbians shot 75 percent from the field and had seven players in double figures led by Nemanja Bjelica with 20 points. Bogdan Bogdanovic dropped 17 points on four triples while Nikola Jokic was good for 11 points, seven rebounds, and seven assists. For Gilas Pilipinas, CJ Perez once again was the shining star, leading the team in scoring with 16 points off the bench. Paul Lee started and scored 15 points for the Philippines but no other player  cracked double figures for Gilas. Andray Blatche shot 2/10 from the floor for five points before fouling out. Gilas wraps up group play against Angola (0-2) Wednesday before heading to Beijing for the 17-32 classification phase.   — Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2019