MANILA, Philippines—After punching a ticket to Spain, the Philippine team is hoping to have the gold medals dangling around their necks on Sunday night.
The Filipinos are not just stopping at a trip to the Basketball World Cup next year, they want the distinction the country used to hold, as Asia’s number one.
“I told them, ‘congratulations, we have achieved our objective, now our dream is at hand,'” said head coach Chot Reyes at an emotional post-game press conference.
“Our objective was to win a medal but our dream was to win it all. We’re going all out. They have to carry us out of the court tomorrow,” he added.
The Filipinos arranged a face-off with Asian powerhouse Iran, who blasted Chinese-Taipei en route to the finals, on Sunday for the Fiba Asia title.
The last time the country won the Asian championships was such a long time ago—28 years to be exact—that Fiba Asia was still called the Asian Basketball Confederation (ABC).
And to carry the Philippine team to that spot again would be the ultimate prize.
“We will try our best to win the championships. We want to be defending champions,” said Ranidel De Ocampo, who hit a crucial triple to lift the Philippines, in Filipino.
Marcus Douthit, re-injuring his leg midway the second quarter, is unlikely to suit up for the Philippines in the finale scheduled at 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena, but wounded De Ocampo and Marc Pingris vowed to push past pain.
“Huling laro na ito. Nung na-injury ako, anim na laro pa, sabi ko sa sarili ko anim na laro nalang yan. Eh eto, isa nalang, ngayon pa ba ako susuko? [This is the last game. The last time I got injured I played through six games. Why would I give up now]?” De Ocampo said.
“Laban pa rin. Arcoxia lang yan. [We’ll still fight. I’ll just drink Arcoxia],” added Pingris.