Still no shot at Asiad cage gold
Seventh place in men’s basketball in 2014 is the low mark for the country in the Asian Games after dominating the sport Filipinos love most in the first four stagings of the continental meet that started in 1951.
The next Asiad which Indonesia will stage in the cities of Jakarta and Palembang is four months away and national coach Chot Reyes remains mum on what he plans to do to redeem himself from the worst ever beating the Nationals suffered in Incheon, South Korea, four years ago.
Reyes, who had naturalized players Marcus Douthit and current Gilas mainstays June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Jayson Castro and Gabe Norwood in the 2014 squad that finished with just three wins against four losses overall, is currently preoccupied with the Gilas campaign in the qualifiers for the 2019 Fiba World Cup in China.
The Nationals, with a 2-1 win-loss record, are running second behind Australia in Group B after two windows of the qualifier. They play Chinese Taipei in Taiwan on June 29 then play host to Australia at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue on July 2 to cap their first round qualifying schedule. The Asiad is set in August.
While we acknowledge the national obsession to do well in the World Cup, we would like to remind the country’s basketball leaders that success in the Asian Games is the more honorable thing to do.
Regaining the continental cage championship, which is achievable, certainly is more prestigious than qualifying in the World Cup where the opposition will be just too awesome for the Filipinos.
After winning the last basketball gold in 1962, it took the first all-pro national squad coached by Robert Jaworski to give the country a silver in 1990 behind host China. The Filipinos salvaged their last cage medal, a bronze in 1998. Then the plunge to mediocrity started as teams from the Middle East boosted the Asiad cage roster.
Gilas Pilipinas actually has a strong shot at the gold if the country decides to take the Asiad basketball campaign seriously. With the national team standouts keeping themselves fit due to the ongoing World Cup qualifying, Reyes won’t have conditioning problems if his boys are also tapped for the Indonesia cagefest.
And if Andray Blatche becomes eligible, unlike in Incheon when he was replaced by Douthit, he would certainly be an Asiad asset for Gilas. Another possible Gilas reinforcement is Fil-German Christian Stanhardinger, who is joining San Miguel Beer in the coming PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
After the second World Cup qualifying game with Australia, Reyes will also have the Jones Cup set in mid-July to test the Asiad bets.
So, how about it Chot?
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