Happy and sad for PH basketball
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
OUR national basketball team named “Smart Gilas Pilipinas” wrested the 2012 William Jones Cup championship through a 76-75 nail-biting victory over the United States team, UPG last month. It’s the fourth triumph of PH since 1977 when the first William Jones Cup was held. The PH win has put the country as one of the wining-est countries in this annual event which Iran topped. Our nationals as well as their fans, especially the team’s supporters headed by business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan and PBA commissioner Chito Salud, were ecstatic in their celebration. Yes, they deserve the applause and jubilation even if the Jones Cup is a less prestigious event.
With the exception of our PH team and the host Taipei which both sent their bests, majority of the countries that participated like Iran, China, South Korea, Lebanon, U.S., among others, just sent their ball clubs or their national team B to compete in this annual tournament. Honestly, while I was elated it wasn’t a jubilant feeling because of the degree of competition the team faced.
Days after the Jones Cup, the more prestigious FIBA Asia Cup was held in Tokyo and the Asia’s continental giants like Iran, Lebanon, South Korea, Japan, Qatar, Kazhakstan, PH and China, to name a few, sent their best athletes and tangled with each other. Unfortunately, we were only good for fourth place (as usual) bowing to the taller Iranians by 17 points, 77-60, in the semis and 16 points, 79-63, to the improving Qataris for the fight for the bronze. What a shame. It was a disgrace because the two countries (Iran and Qatar) were in the cellar during the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s and 90’s in Asian basketball skirmishes where we used to dominate them by not lower than 15 points. But not anymore. If we read them now, our Asian neighbors are improving tremendously especially their long-range shooting abilities. They are very agile, witty and know now how to use their body and height, which they learned through experience. But let me clarify that our PH team also had already improved a lot but obviously we still lack the height and speed.
“We don’t have the proportional height and still lacking in agility to the sport and that’s the big reason why we are always gold-less in Asian competitions,” said Mangaldan election officer Johnny Valencia, a sports enthusiast especially in boxing, basketball, cycling, lawn tennis and cockfighting. “We will never win the gold in Asian Games because aside from their height and speed, our Asian neighbors have already learned the regimen of the sport through their international exposures and experiences,” Valencia explained. I believe he’s right. Like him I saw the games too and am aware of the records.
Iran and PH made their bid to host the FIBA Asia Championship in September next year. But unfortunately like Iran, we lost because the FIBA Asia board decided to give it to Lebanon, maybe because it was the 2011 FIBA Asia Cup champion. PH was named an alternate venue in case Lebanon pulls out. The top two winners in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship will qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Championship to be held in Spain.
So after the Jones Cup victory, PH suffered a double whammy for the country in basketball. When will we ever win the gold in Asia. Siguro pagputi ng uwak, as the saying goes.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words. THESSALONIANS 4: 16-18