PH moves on despite Gilas cagers debacle | Inquirer Sports

PH moves on despite Gilas cagers debacle

By: - Sports Editor / @ftjochoaINQ
/ 01:35 AM October 05, 2014

INCHEON, South Korea—As Team Philippines trudged its way to its worst showing in the Asian Games since the 1990 edition staged in Beijing, there was reason for sports officials to expect less heat than they usually receive as the country continues to struggle in the international stage.

And the reason had little to do with the homestretch gold courtesy of Daniel Caluag’s blazing ride in cycling’s BMX event.

By the time the torch is put out in at Incheon Asiad Main Stadium and by the time the last Filipino athlete flies back home, the spotlight will fall heavily on the country’s adored Gilas Pilipinas basketball team, which sank to its worst finish in the quadrennial meet under a wave of controversy and innuendo.


Already, basketball icon Ramon Fernandez had spoken up: “Sad to say, it’s a nightmare,” the four-time PBA MVP and many-time national player said of the country’s stint in the men’s basketball competition.


The words “ashamed,” “frustrated” and “dastardly act”—the last referring to a foiled ploy to stretch a winning margin for quotient purposes by shooting at the opponent’s goal—flowed from a scathing rebuke that the legendary cager delivered via e-mail.

When the heat cools on the Gilas Pilipinas controversy, there will still be the painful reality that the team managed only one gold medal in the quadrennial event, coupled with three silvers and 11 bronzes. Highlighting the meager harvest was the fact that the country logged 22nd overall among Asian countries—seventh among its Southeast Asian neighbors.

The finish validated what officials had tried to mask after the debacle in the Southeast Asian Games last year: The country’s sports program is in the doldrums.

It is a program that is fueled only by the inspiring performances of athletes who refused to surrender until the last point was played or the final buzzer sounded.

From the ruins of the Gilas Pilipinas failed mission came Jimmy Alapag’s shining moment—his final stint with the national team capped with a courageous stand against host Korea. That the country’s international nemesis eventually won the title will forever leave a debate unsettled: What if the disciplinary benching of Marcus Douthit was applied on another day, when the stakes were low?

The answer will never be known.


From the Songdo LNG Baseball Stadium came a revelation of a tournament from softball’s Blu Girls. No, they did not win a medal. But yes, they made the traditional powers take notice.

The medal haul was hardly reflective of the first-pitch-to-last kind of fight that the country put up.

“It’s unfortunate that we have not been winning medals because I know we got a vast pool of talent,” said Caluag, whose golden feat makes him an instant frontrunner for the Athlete of the Year award.

But without a stable, long-term program to back the fight that Filipino athletes have in them, there will always be one-gold Asiads and zero-medal Olympics to look forward to.

Meanwhile, the athletes will pick up the pieces from this 1-3-11 (gold-silver-bronze) stint here and move on.

“Maybe God has other plans,” said boxing silver medalist Charly Suarez. “We just have to accept

Move on. That was the theme for most of the country’s campaigners in the Asian Games. Pick up the pieces. Move on. Tomorrow is another day, another battle.

“We just have to prepare for the next tournaments,” said bronze medalist Mario Fernandez, a soft-spoken fighter from Bukidnon who is eyeing national team slots to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and the Southeast Asian Games next year.

Even Caluag, he with the gold medal around his neck, is already moving forward with an eye on those two events.

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And luckily for sports officials, they will spearhead this preparation under a glare of lessened intensity as the country preoccupies itself with the basketball debacle.

TAGS: Gilas Pilipinas, officials, PH

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