Gilas' Asian Games win 'worth a thousand golds,' says POC chief | Inquirer Sports

Gilas’ Asian Games win ‘worth a thousand golds,’ says POC chief

By: - Reporter / @junavINQ
/ 08:43 PM October 07, 2023

Gilas Pilipinas Team Philippines celebrates with their gold medals after defeating Jordan in their men's basketball gold medal at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Friday, Oct. 6, 2023.

Gilas Pilipinas members celebrate with their gold medals after defeating Jordan in their men’s basketball gold medal at the 19th Asian Games in Hangzhou, China, Friday, Oct. 6, 2023. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

HANGZHOU, China—After Gilas Pilipinas dismantled Jordan in the men’s basketball finale of the 19th Asian Games, Team Philippines completed the coveted mission of duplicating the gold medals in its treasure trove during the previous Asiad.

But for Philippine Olympic Committee president Abraham “Bambol” Tolentino, the Gilas triumph on Friday night means so much more.


“It’s worth a thousand golds,’’ beamed Tolentino the morning after the Philippines matched its output of four gold medals in 2018 Indonesia.


Not only did Gilas, a collection of PBA stars under the guidance of coach Tim Cone, win the nation’s fourth gold, this team likewise ended a tiring wait of 61 years for the Asian Games diadem to return to local shores.

The Philippines, led by the legendary Caloy “The Big Difference’’ Loyzaga, claimed four straight basketball titles in the Asian Games from 1951 in New Delhi, India to 1962 Jakarta in Indonesia.

Since then, frustrations for the Nationals piled up with a silver in 1990 in Beijing and two bronze medals in 1986 Seoul and 1998 Bangkok their only trips to the podium.

“It’s God’s will, prayers answered. That’s actually five gold medals won all in all, counting Eumir’s (Marcial) silver,’’ said Tolentino.

Cone assembled a fighting crew bound for China’s artificial intelligence and e-commerce hub here on the fly built around naturalized player Justin Brownlee and World Cup holdovers Scottie Thompson, Junemar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and CJ Perez.


Chris Newsome and Calvin Oftana, who both got cut from that World Cup squad coached by Chot Reyes, got inserted this time with San Miguel players Chris Ross and Marcio Lassiter as well as Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino and Ange Kouame.

Ranged against China’s Tanglatihan Touhetaerbieke in the men’s 80kg final, Marcial wound up with a silver medal, but it was good enough considering that the Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist earned another golden shot in next year’s Paris Olympics.

meggie ochoa gold asian games

FILE–Gold medalist Philippines’ Margarita Ochoa poses during the medal ceremony for the Women’s 48Kg jiu-jitsu in the 19th Asian Games. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

Jujitsu warriors Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez accounted for the two other gold medals on top of the other silver from sanda fighter Arnel Mandal.

A total of 12 bronze medals was likewise collected from a variety of sports, installing the Philippines to 17th among 45 countries behind runaway overall champion China’s 192 golds, 106 silvers and 66 bronze medals.

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“After 61 years, we proved once again that the Philippines is No. 1 in Asia (in basketball),’’ said Tolentino.

World Games karate champion Junna Tsukii enters the mat for the country’s closing show on Sunday before the Games come to a close in another lavish closing ceremony in the afternoon..

TAGS: Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas

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