The longest wait is over. After 27 years we are back in the limelight of Asian basketball and this historic event is our ticket to the FIBA World Cup 2014 in Madrid, Spain.
Today at the MOA Arena, Philippine basketball team Gilas Pilipinas and the Filipino people made history and it’s a sweet meaningful history as we earned the much coveted ticket to the FIBA World Cup. Gilas beats South Korea 86-79 in a heart stumping game today which led the team to its 1st Finals appearance after so many years. It was a nerve rocking game as South Korea started strong taking the first 2 quarters of the game. S. Korea ended the 1st quarter leading Gilas by 4 at 15-19 and in the 2nd quarter by 3 at 36-39. But in the 3rd quarter the heart of the champions came out, Jason Castro step up again to take the lead for Gilas for 40-39. And that starter the momentum for the team taking 8-0 run against the Koreans. 3rd quarter ended up with Gilas leading South Korea by 9 at 65-56.
Fourth quarter was a heart attack, Koreans was able to close the gap even taking back the lead 73-74 with 4:20 minutes remaining in the game. But the heart of the Filipinos prevailed, with Alapag’s 3-pointer, Gilas took back the lead 76-75 and from then on managed to control the game and win it. Mark Pingris helped largely in this win with his 26 points, 1 assist and 10 rebounds. Jason Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo were also big factors with they 16 points (both), 3 assists (both) and 3 and 6 rebounds respectively.
What a sweet victory for a country who at one point have lessen it’s preference in basketball evidenced by the decrease in attendance of it’s premier professional league. Now that we’re back, the celebration is worthwhile even if we’re yet to play for the FIBA Asia championship game against Iran tomorrow. The most important thing is that we’re going to the FIBA World Cup next year and that is a dream worth waiting that came through. As one commentator/basketball enthusiast said this is not only a game of Gilas Pilipinas this is a game of the whole Philippines. And if you’re battling against the Philippine Team, you’re battling against the whole country. Congrats Gilas and congrats to us Filipinos.