PH sportswriters group fetes Gilas for ‘Miracle in Hangzhou’
PRESIDENT’S AWARD

Sports scribes’ group fetes Gilas for ‘Miracle in Hangzhou’

By: - Reporter / @MusongINQ
/ 05:15 AM January 04, 2024

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.

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. REUTERS

Hastily assembled and not given much of a chance. Gilas Pilipinas went to Hangzhou, China, for the Asian Games (Asiad) and went on to write one of the most inspiring stories of the year that passed.

With Tim Cone calling the shots and an indefatigable naturalized player in Justin Brownlee, the Nationals chopped down one regional power after the other in the final four to win the gold that glittered the brightest back home.

The victory ended a 61-year drought to regain supremacy in the region and for two nights—against China in the semifinals and Jordan in the title game, a celebration of more than 100 million people could be heard.

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And it is because of that special feat that this batch of Gilas Pilipinas stars will be feted with the 2023 President’s Award during the San Miguel Corporation-Philippine Sportswriters Association (SMC-PSA) Annual Awards Night on Jan. 29 at Diamond Hotel as the country’s oldest media organization pays tribute to the intrepid crew that restored a country’s faith in its basketball program.

“They made the nation proud with their epic feat and inspiring story that will be told and retold for years to come,” said PSA president Nelson Beltran, the sports editor of The Philippine Star.

Going to the Asiad, Cone, taking over from predecessor Chot Reyes, only had three weeks to prepare a team which only retained four players from the core that saw action in the International Basketball Federation (Fiba) World Cup.

A lopsided loss to Jordan in the classification phase certainly didn’t help to prop up the morale of the Nationals, who bounced back from there and went to claim the biggest fish in the tournament when they brought down the host Chinese in the semifinals.

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There was also that 84-83 victory over Iran that the Nationals didn’t put to waste as they rallied from 20 points down for the Miracle in Hangzhou against the Chinese, with Brownlee hitting two straight three-pointers during the most critical times of a 77-76 win.

That victory also sparked outrage in China as reported by wire stories, as the Chinese called their players “spoiled,” and still couldn’t accept another defeat from the Filipinos, who handed them a humiliating debacle in the Fiba World Cup in Manila less than two months before.

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The late Hall of Famer Caloy Loyzaga led a PH team in 1962 for the last Asiad gold before that drought hit.

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TAGS: Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas

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