Gilas five’s continuing saga

By July 29, 2022Sports Eye

By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.

OUR national basketball squad called “Gilas” did not pass the FIBA Asia Cup qualifying round held weeks ago. Although we won twice against India, we suffered a humiliating defeat twice, first frqwom New Zealand, 106-60 and 92-75, in the first and second windows. Then we were shamed in defeat by our co-Asian countries: Lebanon, 95-80, and Japan, 102-91, landing ninth overall in the succeeding rounds. That booted us out from the next round of FIBA Asia Cup. What a shocking shame that the qualifying losses of our PH team were all in double digits despite under the mentorship of PBA’s Best Coach awardee Chot Reyes. Yes, Gilas is obviously on a slump.

But Gilas saga will continue despite those embarrassing setbacks in Asia. Its next assignment is expectedly going to be more problematic, the prestigious FIBA World Cup. Gilas is scheduled to play the host Lebanon in Beirut first on August 25 and Saudi Arabia on August 29 to be hosted by Philippines at Mall of Asia (MOA) arena. Reports are circulating that NBA’s Utah Jazz forward Fil-Am Jordan Clarkson will reinforce the Gilas five setting aside 10 days to play in the fourth window and six days for the World Cup. Although Clarkson’s mother is from Pampanga, unfortunately, he will not be recognized by FIBA as a local cager but as a naturalized player because of the immersion clause despite his Filipino half-heritage according to the FIBA rules.

FIBA also says that Clarkson could be classified as a local player if he stayed in our country for a relatively long period of time and contributed to the development of the game domestically. Yes, I still recall when the six-foot-five 30-year-old Fil-Am Clarkson made his Gilas debut at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia that landed the Gilas five in fifth place finish, our best finish after 16 years.  It was still nothing like during the time of Robert Jaworski, Roger Melencio, Freddie Webb, Fortunato Co, Bogs Adornado, to name some. For sure, with Clarkson in the Gilas team, he will make everyone better, not only in his play, but a morale booster for the team. There’s also a fresh report that the seven-foot-three homegrown talent Kai Sotto will suit up for the Gilas team for the FIBA World Cup. Hopefully that will happen. Although admittedly our chance to land on the top ten is very slim, the Philippines is mandated to join the FIBA skirmishes, by hook or by crook.

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It’s sad to know that the former Asia’s queen of sprint in athletics Lydia de Vega is fighting breast cancer and she needs our prayers and financial support from some rich individuals and our government. The Bulacan lass brought honors to our country in Southeast Asia Games and particularly during the1986 Asian Games. Hopefully, God will do a miracle for her.

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Our big thanks to our well-known pole-vaulter Ernest John Obiena for bagging the bronze medal in the just concluded star-studded World Athletic Championships held in Eugene, Oregon, U.S.A. It was  2020 Tokyo Olympics gold medal winner and a world record holder (6.21 meters) Mondo Duplantis of Sweden and Christopher Nilsen of U.S. who snared the gold and silver medals, respectively. The 26-year-old world number 6 rated pole-vaulter Obiena cleared 5.94 meters eclipsing his Asian mark 5.93 meters he set in the Golden Roof Challenge in Innsbruck, Austria last year. His effort earned him the right to represent Philippines in the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Mabuhay ka EJ.

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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.” MATTHEW 24: 7-8

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