Category Archives: gilas pilipinas

After the Asian Games, will you give up on Gilas?

It has been a eventful 14 months in the history of Philippine basketball. From winning silver at 2013 FIBA Asia Championship on home soil. To those thrilling tune-up games leading up to the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. To the eventful return of Philippine basketball on the world map with a gallant performance at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup. Despite the fact, Gilas Pilipinas won only 1 of 5 games and did not making it to the next round of the tournament finishing 21st in the 24 team tournament. The world was put on notice with what they have accomplished. All the way to Incheon for the Asian Games. Where unfortunately, the team suffered a disastrous finish settling for only 7th place in the tournament.

The tournament was a disaster for the national team. After winning their opening match against India, they suffered a tough loss against Iran where the team kept in close distance with the Iranians. Then into the next stage of the competition, they suffered a shock loss to Qatar. Followed up by another tough loss against the host nation and eventual gold winners Korea. Then a victory that felt like a defeat against Kazakhstan ending the medal hopes of the team. Losing to China and ending the tournament with a win over Mongolia for the 7th place finish.

With a twist of fate, the team that brought a nation together, has completely tore it apart. As the critics emerged blasting the team on every aspect. Majority of the brunt was put on Gilas head coach Chot Reyes. Reyes, who on a press interview blasted naturalized player Marcus Douthit after the loss to Qatar which led Filipino basketball fans to blast him on his own miscues during the course of the tournament. Primarily on the team’s failure to execute in end game situations that has been present even in their stint at the FIBA Basketball World Cup thus leading to the infamous moniker that is “Choke” Reyes. In addition, to his choices on rotating players during the course of the game. Calls for him to vacate his coaching job for the nationals spread like wildfire. Critics wanted to give other great coaches like Tim Cone or Yeng Guiao the opportunity to call the shots for the nationals.

The downfall of the team in the Asiad, unfortunately overshadowed Jimmy Alapag’s farewell run donning a “PILIPINAS” jersey. This after he came out for one last shot with the national team after earlier calling himself to retire after the tournament in Spain. As well as the good name that this team have put on the basketball world map during those eventful days in Sevilla.

This graph pretty much explains how “most” people felt after each tournament that Gilas had played since last year.

Photos used were from multiple blog sites.
 
For obvious reasons, I did not choose to use a person from Gilas Pilipinas for this graph. It would undo everything that I wrote in my previous blog entry.
 
As a fan of this team. I am saddened as any Gilas fan there is in the world about the outcome of the last tournament. After all the hard work and inspiration that this team gave to the nation. The team indeed suffered a major setback in those tough days in Incheon. That forced own basket vs Kazakhstan pretty much summed up all the struggles this team encountered.
 
I may have the right to exercise tough criticism on the team itself. However, I choose not to do so. I mean on a personal note, it is unfair to criticize someone for not being able to execute what the people wanted. 
 
As far as Coach Chot Reyes is concerned, I’m not blaming him. I mean what’s the point?!? You give praise when he coaches well enough to win games for the team, but stab him in the back when he commits something unforgivable in coaching that the team losses. 
 
This ain’t the first time that anyone on this team has been criticized, remember Gary David at last year’s FIBA Asia tournament? Some fans called him out not worthy of being a part the national team after his struggles during the tournament. Fortunately for Gary, his fellow players and most people backed him up and was instrumental in that quarter-final win vs Kazakhstan last year.
 
His critics have valid points which are worthy of consideration. I can honestly say, he is the most polarizing head coach that Philippine basketball has ever seen. Some people love him, some people hate him. But I have to say he is still one of the best coaches this country has ever seen in this generation. Take out what happened in Incheon, he coached the team back into the world stage of basketball.
 
I’m not asking anyone to stop sharing their sentiments good or bad. For one fact, that this nation is truly obsessed with the game of basketball. That is something I truly admire about our passion for the sport.
 
Speaking of the Philippines in the Asian Games, the country brought home 15 medals from Incheon. The lone GOLD medal came from cycling athlete Daniel Caluag. 3 silver medals (2 in wushu, 1 in boxing) and 11 bronze medals (5 in taekwondo, 3 in boxing, 1 each in wushu, archery and karate)
 
There is the outspoken minority of Filipinos who think that we should focus on sports where we can actually have a better shot of success or winning a medal in international tournaments. We should not forget about them too. After all these kind of tournaments aren’t always about basketball. It was unfortunate that only a few got to learn about these medal finishes by our athletes. Indeed, it should be a stepping stone to improve the general standing of Philippine sports. I do hope that our sports program gets better in the near future.
 
In ending, as for Gilas Pilipinas in the near future. For sure, it will debut a new look team once the next tournament comes next year which is the FIBA Asia Tournament that is a qualifying tournament for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The winner of the tournament automatically qualifies for the Olympics. While the second and third place teams will have to go through a Olympic qualifying tournament for three wild card spots at the Olympics.

Whether Gilas management decides to keep Chot Reyes or choose another coach. So be it as long as it’s for the best interest of the program.

 
Is it time to give up on this team? I personally think otherwise. As a fan, I will continue to support the national team 100%
 
If there is anything that I have learned as a fan of teams like the Houston Rockets and the UST Growling Tigers. That is to never give up on a team no matter what happens. Stick through everything good or bad. 
 
I have yet to taste genuine joy as a basketball fan whenever a NBA Finals or UAAP Finals is being played out as both of these teams have not won the championship in their respective leagues ever since the day I started rooting for these teams.

Some of my friends have tasted that genuine joy whenever their team/school won the title.

 
Yet I come back every year with renewed hope that one day they will reach the promise land and as a fan I get to taste the joy of going all the way to the promised land.
 
There will be time for the wounds to heal. It will be another 11 months until Gilas Pilipinas returns to battle in the Asian stage. As a fan, will you give up? or hang on through good and bad times?

Gilas Pilipinas 2014: The team that brought Philippine basketball back on the world map.

Prior to writing this one, I have seen a lot of writers and bloggers that have already written their take on this matter. Even so, I will still write this one. The passion is burning high on my body, on my mind and in my heart. So let’s get to it.

 
For the last six days, Filipinos within our soil and around the world witnessed one of the defining moments in the history of Philippine basketball. The story of a nation’s unlikely love affair where in the eyes of anyone outside a Filipino is a genetic mismatch when it comes to the international stage.

For the last six days, Filipinos set aside their differences to unite as one nation in support of a team carrying “PILIPINAS” in their royal blue, white and red jersey. The nation went through a lot over these six days over Sevilla, Spain. From the glimpses of brilliance that shocked the world of basketball to the unimaginable heartbreak when we fell short after a great fight against the countries this team battled. When it all ended with a sweet and hard-earned victory over Senegal. There was pride, hope and optimism running through every Filipino who bare witness to this moment. Whether they were in Sevilla throughout their run, on home soil, or around the world where a Filipino is watching this moment.

Truly this was a team that despite falling short of victories on the win column will be remembered as the team that brought Philippine basketball to where it truly belonged, on the basketball world map.

Let’s run down a few of the memorable tournaments of this run by Gilas Pilipinas at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain.

When Gary David or Japeth Aguilar, despite playing limited minutes giving a boost on the scoreboard whenever they score a basket. 

LA Tenorio competing tooth and nail with Puerto Rican NBA veteran J.J. Barea in a showdown of court generals.

Ranidel De Ocampo, Paul Lee and Jeff Chan dropping three point bombs on the scoreboard.

The grit of a Marc Pingris and Jayson Castro who played through the injuries to give everything they have and show the world what “PUSO” means to the Filipino nation.

Gabe Norwood’s work on the defensive end and two Kodak moments when he delivered two highlight reel dunks over Argentina. One of which was over NBA and international veteran Luis Scola.

The overall efficiency that June Mar Fajardo brought throughout the tournament and a inside presence this team lacked in previous tournaments that spanned over generations of basketball.

The play of Andray Blatche, our naturalized NBA player who lit up the scoreboard with three pointers and drives to the basket. He also played through injury showing that he may not be a born Filipino, but his heart and passion showed the grit of a Filipino.

The Captain Jimmy Alapag who played in his final international tournament carrying the PILIPINAS blue, white and red. Dropping three point bombs that were beyond NBA range. The steady play on running the offense and sending us home with our heads up high by nailing clutch free throws in the team’s final game over Senegal.

Of course the coaching staff, led by Coach Chot Reyes together with assistant coaches Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Josh Reyes and consultant Tab Baldwin. It was with their sacrifice of calling the shots for the team that bare fruit. They went through a lot especially in a nation where both players and the coaches are under the microscope at all times.

For everyone following the PBA every conference, they set their differences aside for each other. Imagine this, Alaska fans cheering once again for LA Tenorio. San Mig Coffee fans cheering every Jeff Chan and Paul Lee three point bombs or Gabe Norwood tearing the rim down and stop. San Miguel Beer fans (just like me) cheering a Jimmy Alapag long bomb or Ranidel de Ocampo bucket. Rain or Shine fans cheering on the grit of Marc Pingris.

This team gave the world of basketball something to remember. Who would have thought that this team would compete in close games to some of the world’s best countries when it comes to basketball? Prior to the tournament, people expected Gilas Pilipinas to lose by huge double digit margins. This team proved to the world otherwise. 

They only lost by three points in a game that went into overtime, in the very first game of the whole tournament against 16th ranked and 2013 Eurobasket 4th placer Croatia

They lost twelve points to 5th ranked and one of four tournament wild cards in Greece

They only lost by four points to 3rd ranked and one-time Olympic champions Argentina.

The biggest heartbreak came when we competed well against 17th ranked and 2013 FIBA Americas runner-up Puerto Rico only to fall short by four points. Sealing our fate of not advancing into the next stage of the competition.

The final game against Senegal is when the door was finally broken as they won in overtime by two points ending their run on a positive note and to the delight of every Filipino as they win a game for the first time at the FIBA Basketball World since 1974. Imagine that, 40 years since the last time a team carrying “PILIPINAS” won on the world stage of basketball.

What also made it special is that this team gained new found respect and along the way. From international sports writers and analysts like ESPN’s Mark JonesMike Prada of SB Nation, and NBA writer Couper Moorhead. To  who is in a way a Spanish equivalent of Grantland writer, Pacific Rims author and Pinoy Hoops host Rafe Bartholomew, who followed this team starting from their tune-ups in Guadalajara, Spain against teams like Angola, Egypt and the Dominican Republic and drove 600 miles to Sevilla to follow the team into every single game of this tournament. 

The team also gained the respect also from opposing players and coaches, Argentine coach Julio Lamas was quoted that their game against the Philippines was “the most difficult game he coached” in his coaching career. Puerto Rican point guard J.J. Barea giving props to Gilas guard LA Tenorio. Greek coach Fotios Katsikaris acknowledging the tip he got from his Philippine-based friends about how good the team is.

Also on a personal note for me, there was also a guy who goes by the name of Jason Williams who like me is a huge Houston Rockets fan. From the first game of the team in the tournament, he fell in love with the team. He said to me after the Philippines lost to Puerto Rico that it was like seeing the Rockets misfortunes the past season all over again. But when the win over Senegal came. He gave me a nice shout-out.

Photo ©Karl Carandang
Well, there will always be scrutiny about how this team played out. Filipinos whose love for basketball is unlike the world has ever seen (take Lithuania as our equal when it comes to passion) will have something to scrutinize. As they say, it’s always easy to scrutinize whenever you’re sitting at home eating good food, drinking a good cup, and being with your family watching the game. 
 
People pointing on coach Chot Reyes and his choice of rotation of players, on why he didn’t play certain players in crunch moments. People pointing on Andray Blatche’s play in which some critics reminded them of his notoriety during his playing days in the NBA with the Washington Wizards and the Brooklyn Nets. People pointing on Jayson Castro’s late game decisions. And a host of other scrutiny a person can think of.
 
And also the thought of racism among some Filipinos over opposing players. One notable victim was Croatian player Dario Šarić who was born with a cleft lip, bore the brunt of racist comments by Filipinos on the FIBA Facebook page showing his photo. Again, just like everyone who carried the “PILIPINAS” royal blue, white and red. He was carrying the “CROATIA” red and white and the hopes of another nation.
 
Nobody wearing their respective colors, whether it be PILIPINAS, USA, España, Lietuva, Brasil, México, Srbija, Dominicana, Slovenija, Hellas, Türkiye, France, Puerto Rico, Senegal, Angola, Croatia, Argentina, Finland, Australia, Ukraine, New Zealand, I.R. Iran, Korea or Egypt (Yes, I have to mention what is on the jersey of every nation that played in this tournament) deserves to be disrespected like that.
 
But enough with my rant, let’s keep this as optimistic as possible. The run of our national team may have come to an end. However, we’ll come out of this with renewed optimism. Optimism and hope that this run won’t be the last one we’ll see in our lifetime. For Team Gilas Pilipinas, this ain’t the end but only the beginning of something special
 
I believe, we believe. Let’s move forward, on to the next tournament, in the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea and the next FIBA Asia Championship in China come 2015. Hopefully we can play on the Olympic stage on the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. And I am supporting our bid to host the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup which will grow from 24 teams this year to 32 teams.
 
Let me say this with pride once again. 
 
“Ako si Karl Carandang, pinanganak at lumaki sa Quezon City, buong pusong sumusporta sa Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
 
In English:
“My name is Karl Carandang, born and raised in Quezon City, wholeheartedly supporting Team Gilas Pilipinas.”
 
THANK YOU GILAS PILIPINAS. For giving us a reason to come together as one nation. Looking for more journeys with our team in the future. Thank you for a great run at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup.
 
LABAN PILIPINAS! PUSO!

Meeting the man behind Pacific Rims and Pinoy Hoops.

I was browsing through Facebook, when I saw an invite to an event for Tuesday, when I read it, I was pumped up! Because the man behind the book “Pacific Rims” and the National Geographic Channel documentary “Pinoy Hoops” Rafe Bartholomew is coming back to the Philippines for a book signing at his old stomping grounds while he was in the country to write his book in the Katipunan area of Quezon City.

So with no hesitation, I went half-day for work on Tuesday, took the LRT from UST to Katipunan and I went straight to the venue which was Gino’s Brick Oven Pizza just across the campuses of Miriam College and Ateneo de Manila University. Since I didn’t have lunch prior to getting there, I took time to eat my lunch there, and their pizza was very delicious and I’d be happy to come back if given the chance. Then at mid-day the man finally arrived. When the book signing was about to start, a crew from ABS-CBN came along with former UST courtside reporter Tina Marasigan to conduct an interview with Rafe, which took awhile. Afterwards, the owner of the place who happens to be a close friend of Rafe opened up the day with a question and answer part. I threw in a question to him where I asked about the chances of Gilas Pilipinas in the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain. Where the best case is that they’ll get to pass the second round while the worst case is that they fail to win a game in the tournament, but he also said the team could be one of the darlings of the tournament. I also happen to give him a suggestion on a possible second season of Pinoy Hoops where they should look at the college game, not only limited to the UAAP and NCAA, but also to other parts of the country where I mentioned Cebu who also has a rich basketball history.

Afterwards, the book signing began. Since I came in first, I got to have my copy of his book Pacific Rims signed up first. Since I happen to follow him on Twitter, I was surprised he read this blog especially my articles about Gilas Pilipinas and my NBA Global Games experience. He also happens to know my obsession for the Houston Rockets, which gave a huge smile on my face. Best part of it all was we got to converse in Filipino of which he’s fluent for a little while.

 Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
So I’d like to thank Sir Rafe Bartholomew for the opportunity to finally meet you in person. I am looking forward to the day we cross paths again. Thank you for all the inspiration that you gave this kid who loves basketball and sports a lot. I also forgot to tell you that I’m a lefty just like you are that’s why I came in very inspired.

It was a unique experience for myself, I really hope that my friends can come in and jump the train with me the next time he comes back.
Inspiration comes full swing.
K-Smoove

The monsoon gave me a chance to catch up on things.

This is my 200th blog entry since I opened this blog over a year ago. It’s been almost two months since I last wrote an entry here. Never did I think, that I’m writing this one in the middle of the monsoon rains that is caused by the typhoon up north in Taiwan. Well, the rains caused suspension of classes which opened up time for me to write this one. So yeah, as the title goes, it’s time for me to catch up on some of the things that happened from the time I wrote my last entry almost 6 weeks ago.

We start back on the week after the retreat, least did I expect that the lessons I got from the retreat would not kick in right away. I was hoping to come out swinging afterwards. But it wasn’t easy and I still had difficulty in catching up with things. But yeah, I was reminded that “storms” in our life will come after the retreat and so I calmed down and re-channel my attention on the important matters.

Then later in the week, another competition came along for me, the first one for the year which was the NLEX Tara Na Sa Norte Quiz Bee at the Atrium in Robinson’s Place Ermita Manila. I competed with a pair, which was my recruit from the third year Chamille. 9 schools competed in the competition. Well, it took awhile to finish the competition as there were a lot of controversies with regards with the questions. Despite that, it was a tightly contested battle. In the end however, we came out as champions by a mere solitary point. So we took home the cash prize of P5,000 which we later split as well as a certificate at the same time we had a celebratory meal at Yellow Cab. Then a couple of days later, our victory got put on a tarpaulin outside of our building.

Photo ©Karl Carandang
 
Driven by the recent victory, I slowly made my comeback bid a reality as I was able to find comfort in doing all the necessary schoolwork that I need to accomplish and I was able to contribute better in each project and homework that we have as the days progressed well until the end of the preliminary period of the semester. We also continued with our thesis work within the past couple of weeks. At the same time, my training continued as we prepared for the biggest competition in the semester and the most difficult and challenging quiz bee for the year which is the PHILTOA Quiz Bee exam, so it was me, Chamille and we were joined by Miah who was also a third year student. Then on August 7, we competed at the campus of Lyceum of the Philippines University in Intramuros. Just like the story last year, we all made it through the semi-finals. However, this version of the story had a change from last year. With my back against the wall, I was able to make it through withing the inch of my life to the Final Round on September 7 at the SMX Convention Center because I sat 9th out of the Top 10 that made it through to the Final Round. Unfortunately, my two other teammates were unable to make it through. Yet despite that, they gained experience in competing. We got something special coming up especially with more competitions lined up in the next semester.
 
Meanwhile outside of the life at school, as one of the many hoop junkies in this country, at the start of August, Filipino basketball fans were in for a great treat as the FIBA Asia Championship was held here in the country as three spots were on the line to represent Asia in the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2014 in Spain. It was also an opportunity for Filipinos to come out with their full support for the national team which is famously known as Gilas Pilipinas. Filipino basketball fans were not left disappointed as Gilas was able to gain the silver medal which marked the first time the Philippines finished at the podium of the FIBA Asia Championship and secure a ticket to the Basketball World Cup for the first time since 1978 when the country hosted the event. From the early heartbreaking setback against Chinese Taipei, to the chants of “Puso”, “Laban Pilipinas” and “Gary” (David) that rained down at the Mall of Asia Arena, to the emotional semi-final victory against long time archrival-tormentor in South Korea, and giving the eventual champions Iran a good fight for the gold. This tournament will always be remembered by a lot of Filipino basketball fans of this generation.
 
Photo ©Yahoo! Sports
 
Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to watch a single game live at the Mall of Asia Arena during the duration of the tournament, at the same time I have yet to watch a UST game this season. I also made it a point that I won’t watch an UST-Ateneo game again this season as three of the four games I’ve watched live were this matchup. Also, the Philippines was visited by NBA players from LeBron James in July to Kobe Bryant in August. However, there was one event that I was able to come to and that was the NBA 3X event at the Mall of Asia Music Hall where I saw James Harden and Eric Gordon in person. Fortunately, I was wearing an adidas shoe at the venue, and I was able to get a photo signed by Eric Gordon. Even though I didn’t end up with an autograph of Harden, I walked away happy and at least I got a photo of him.
 
Photos ©Karl Carandang
 
Well, there are still a lot of events coming up, from Derrick Rose coming over to Manila this September to promote for Adidas. As well as the anticipated NBA Global Games Philippines at the Mall of Asia Arena on October 10 as my favorite team the Houston Rockets will battle Eastern Conference finalists the Indiana Pacers in a fun match-up between teams that have loaded up their roster in the off-season as James Harden, Dwight Howard, Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and the rest of the Rockets will battle the likes of Paul George, Roy Hibbert, George Hill, David West, Danny Granger and the rest of the Pacers. I’m fortunate that I’ll bear witness to history in the making as this is the first NBA pre-season game to be held in the country.
 
As of this moment, our preliminary examinations has yet to come to an end due to the fact that classes have been suspended due to the inclement weather across Metro Manila and nearby provinces. We’ve already finished four days of exams which also included our mock defense for our Thesis. While some are already done with their exams like my younger brother also in UST, I still have to take two more exams. With every suspension, a day is lost in the preparation time for the competition I’ll be competing in next month, at the same time my fear that there will be classes come October 10 could come true.
But then again, safety is above anything else and the fact that we should look after those that were affected by the widespread flooding. We’ll get through this tragic moment with our heads up high and the sun will rise again. Of course, I send my prayers to those who were gravely affected by the heavy flooding as well as the sinking of a passenger vessel in Cebu almost a week ago.
In the meantime, I’ll do something a Filipino is well know for which is finding happiness in tragic moments by looking back at the Claretian Dictionary from my days in my high school Alma Mater as I write on this Throwback Thursday. Well, the title states that it was time for me to catch up on things and now I did. I hope y’all stay safe and I take a line from the movie 3 Idiots “Aal izz well!”
Laban Pilipinas! Puso!
We will rise again.
K-Smoove