Officials and members of Gilas Pilipinas, headed by coach Chot Reyes and team manager Butch Antonio, display their silver medals during awards rites in the FIBA-Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena Sunday. JUN MENDOZA

(PHILSTAR) By Nelson Beltran - Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan, whose vision and leadership helped guide the country’s return to the world stage, said Philippine basketball is bound for more success with the Gilas Pilipinas program.

“This is just the beginning,” said Pangilinan at the close of the 27th FIBA Asia Championship where Gilas Pilipinas claimed a ticket to the 17th FIBA World Cup in Spain next year with a silver medal finish.

“In the next few days, we’ll meet with the team coaching staff to talk about the program,” Pangilinan added.

Gilas coach Chot Reyes said he’s clueless on what’s next for the team.

“We disciplined our minds just thinking about up to Aug. 11. I don’t even know what will happen tomorrow (today) or the schedule towards the world championship,” said Reyes.

“We really have to sit down with MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) to chart our course for the future,” Reyes added.

In the next few days, members of the national team are returning to their mother ball clubs in the PBA.

The SBP and Gilas Pilipinas will also have to talk with the PBA on how to go about the Nationals’ participation in the world championship in Spain next year.

“We’ll talk when the right time comes,” said PBA commissioner Chito Salud earlier.

The bigger question, however, is what’s next after the world joust.

Does Pangilinan’s pronouncement mean he’s keeping together Reyes and his pool for a long haul?

Obviously not fully aware of the intricacies of Philippine basketball, American coach Tab Baldwin said it’s “an injustice and anomaly” if the current Gilas pool is disbanded.

“If you’re to be competitive in the world, you can’t really make compromises,” he said.

“This sort of thing has the ability to bind the community and make everybody pool together for a greater part,” he also said on something that the Filipino nation experienced in the Asian meet.

But then again, not just one person would decide on the future of the Philippine national team.

“Perhaps, it would help that the next chairman of the PBA is Mon Segismundo of Meralco,” an observer said.

Besides the elite pool, Gilas has a cadet pool that includes Matt Ganuelas, Kevin Alas, Ronald Pascual, Garvo Lanete, RR Garcia, Jake Pascual and Greg Slaughter. But these players have their PBA dream.

Phl returns to World Cup as Gilas finally breaks Korean jinx By Alder Almo ( | Updated August 11, 2013 - 12:01am 4 110 googleplus0 21

Marc Pingris fights for the rebound against Kim Joo-Sung of Korea. Photo courtesy of FIBA Asia

MANILA, Philippines – After three and a half decades, the country is back in the World Basketball Championship.

Gilas Pilipinas earned a ticket to the FIBA World Cup in Madrid, Spain after eking out a gut-wrenching, come from-behind 86-79 victory in the semifinals of the 2013 Manila FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship before an overflowing crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena Saturday night.

The Philippines is making its comeback in the world stage since an eight-place showing in the 1978 Manila World Basketball Championship.

It was all about heart as Marc Pingris, Ranidel de Ocampo and Japeth Aguilar all stepped up for the injured Marcus Douthit while the pair of Jimmy Alapag and Jayson Castro in the backcourt played their biggest games of the tournament.

Pingris kept Gilas within striking distance in the second quarter then Castro willed them to grab the lead in the third before De Ocampo and Alapag took turns in breaking the Korean jinx with dagger treys.

“The truth is, up to now, we still don’t know how we did it,” Reyes emerging from an emotional breakdown on the court after the buzzer and onto the dugout.

He had to compose himself for almost an hour before he went for the post-game presser.

“We just kept fighting, the players just won’t give up,” Reyes added. “They have to carry us out of the court.”

And the Koreans failed to break the hearts of the Filipinos this time. Not in front of a loud and proud home crowd.

Pingris poured in 16 points, half of it in the second canto that cushioned the impact of the absence of Douthit, who limped out of the court with an aggravated calf injury. The 6-foot-4 defensive specialist’s sudden offensive outburst kept Gilas within three at the half, 39-36, after trailing by as many as seven early on.

“We said Marcus has been carrying us for so long and so now it’s our turn to carry him,” Reyes trying to sum up his frontliners’ gallant effort.

It was Castro’s turn in the third frame as he blurred Koreans’ vision with three straight baskets that turned the game around, 42-39, to Gilas’ favor.

The crowd went wild and so did Gilas, who threatened to pull away, 56-46, midway through the third canto.

Kim Mingoo, however, willed the Koreans back into the game with his four-point play at the 4:38 mark of the payoff period cutting the lead down to just one, 74-73. Then Lee Seung Jun had a breakaway slam and split at the line to give Korea a two-point edge heading into the final stretch.

And the memories of the bitter losses came back to the consciousness of the crowd that went silent.

But Alapag and De Ocampo, who were at the receiving end of the recent Korean heartbreaker in Wuhan two years ago, fittingly came with the biggest baskets as the crowd of 18, 631 roared in celebration.

Alapag fired two triples that sandwiched a De Ocampo five-point binge to finally lift the monkey off their backs, his last in the final 54 seconds went straight to the hearts of the Koreans giving Gilas a five-point buffer, 84-79.

Gabe Norwood killed any hopes of another miracle Korean comeback with a huge block on the other end while Pingris completed his heroics with a breakaway basket sending the whole arena in pandemonium and brought the whole team down to their knees as tears of joy rolled down.

Pingris came away with 16 points, 10 boards and a sprained foot while De Ocampo played through an MCL injury to finish with 11 and 6 rebounds. Aguilar added eight and four aside from giving up his body battling Lee and Kim Joo-sung in the second half. The short-handed and undersized Gilas outrebounded the taller Koreans, 38-27.

Castro and Alapag combined for 28 points to negate Kim’s game-high 27 markers.

“The objective is to land a medal and the dream is to win the championship. Now, the dream is at hand. We’re definitely going out for our dream tomorrow (Sunday) night,” Reyes said. “Again as I said, they have to carry us out of the court.”

A million thanks, MVP tells players By Abac Cordero (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 13, 2013 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0

Manny V. Pangilinan

MANILA, Philippines - Gilas coach Chot Reyes hoisted the runner-up trophy during a VIP party Sunday at the close of the 27th FIBA-Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“This silver feels like gold,” said the studious coach at the Oceana Restaurant.

Reyes was surrounded by his players and the rest of the coaching staff, amid glaring music, when he presented the gray metal trophy to everyone present.

He described his staff which included Norman Black, Jong Uichico, Ryan Gregorio, Nash Racela and Josh Reyes as “the greatest Filipino coaching staff ever assembled.”

They passed the trophy, no taller than two feet, around.

Gilas chief patron Manny V. Pangilinan was at the party. He spoke briefly in front of the crowd and thanked everybody for a job well done.

The Philippines just lost to Iran in the battle for first and yet what was being shown on the giant screen that stormy night was the game against South Korea.

Everybody was talking about the historic victory over the Koreans, the victory that sealed Gilas’ place in the 2014 World Championship in Spain.

Jimmy Alapag said it’s the greatest feeling of all.

“It’s great and I’m just so proud of everybody involved in this team. There was a lot of hard work from the players, coaches and the fans who spent their hard-earned money to be here,” he said.

“Not only do we love the game so much and are so passionate about the game of basketball but thinking about the heartbreaks that we’ve had and our history against Korea, to change all that in one night here at home in front of an unbelievable crowd is really special,” Alapag added.

Gilas players won the hearts of every Filipino sports fan and perhaps even those of their opponents.

They fought the Iranians tooth and nail in the opening half but just lost grip of the game with the absence of starting center Marcus Douthit.

“Obviously we all would have wanted to come out with the gold but without Marcus it was too difficult. We fought for 20 minutes but with the superior size, good players and great coaching (of Iran) it was too much to ask of our players,” said Reyes.

The victory meant a lot for the Filipinos who are always hungry for heroes. But it means more to the players because they had the opportunity to be part of history.

The Philippines has never gone to the World Championship since 1978.

The players sacrificed a lot in the two months leading up to the tournament and even more during the games. Some of them played hurt but nobody complained.

For all their effort they deserve something special.

And the Gilas big boss did have something special for everybody, from the players to the coaches and the rest of the team.

Word has it that MVP promised each player P1 million each as bonus, and a separate one for the coaches and other members of the team.

If true, the amount is equivalent to the cash incentive that goes to any Filipino athlete that wins a gold medal in the Asian Games.

Nobody would confirm nor deny it – except MVP himself.

In his brief speech, Pangilinan just gave a hint.

“Sa may mga asawa, tanungin niyo na lang sila (the players) kung magkano ang nakuha nila (to the wives, just ask them how much they received),” he said something to that effect.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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