Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez praise 'special' Gilas team | Inquirer Sports

Calvin Oftana, CJ Perez praise ‘special’ Gilas team

Calvin Oftana

Calvin Oftana.–NCAA PHOTO

MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas’ Calvin Oftana and CJ Perez are back in the country but their heads are still in the clouds following their gold medal campaign in the Asian Games.

“That group was in a different class. It was so special because almost everyone was a veteran and a professional,” said Oftana, who came out to support his alma mater San Beda, which lost to Lyceum, 67-62, in the NCAA Season 99 men’s basketball tournament on Sunday at Filoil EcoOil Centre in San Juan.


“Most of them are my kuyas (brothers) in the PBA but they’re there to guide me and the team, especially coach Tim (Cone),” Oftana said.


Gilas ended a 61-year gold medal drought in the Asiad men’s basketball tournament despite facing a lot of manpower woes up until the national team’s departure for the meet, but Oftana recalled how much the team was still prepared to push the country’s bid.

“We almost did not compete but coach Tim asked us if we still wanted to play and we answered ‘Yes coach even if there are just seven of us left we will still play,’” Oftana said.

CJ Perez


Gilas’ successful feat in Hangzhou, China, was an “honor” to give to the country, a goal that Perez said they did not expect to accomplish at first. Perez, the former Lyceum star, was among Gilas’ late additions along with Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross.

But Oftana said the championship was possible through the chemistry that they built during the short training camp Gilas held a few weeks removed from its World Cup stint.

“We’re so happy because after 61 years we got the gold medal,” added Oftana, who praised naturalized player Justin Brownlee’s “dream-like” shooting. “Dream lang ata yun yung nas-shoot ni JB lahat ng tira niya.”

In Gilas’ semifinal win over host China, Brownlee sank 33 points including 17 in the final frame to lead a fightback from 20 points down and earn a championship battle against former PBA import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-led Jordan.


Brownlee then collected 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in the gold medal game against Jordan.

“For the country, of course … It was difficult but we have Justin Brownlee so we helped him, we defended and ‘Magic’ Brownlee really hit his shots. Lord gave us the win and we are so lucky with the hard work of our teammates,” Perez said.

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