With a highly coveted spot in the Rio 2016 Olympics at stake, Gilas Pilipinas couldn't afford even the slightest of distractions during its finals match-up against China in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship last Saturday.
In a weird twist of fate, though, the Philippine basketball contingent was met with a spate of inauspicious circumstances even before the actual game started. Behind Gilas 3.0's silver-medal finish in the Olympic qualifier are ramblings of underhanded moves and cheap tricks supposedly done by the opposing club—which, interestingly, is also the host country.
It started off with Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan, via Twitter, venting about the team's pre-game woes.
Now it has begun. Our Gilas electric bus delayed. Failed to charge daw. Gilas arrival at stadium delayed. Less time for warm up.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
And some of our coaches no tickets!!!!! Wow.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
Plus no tickets for some of our assistant coaches. Gggrrrr. And for us hard to get tix!!! Ggggrrrr.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
Mapapaaway kami dito. Sh*t.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
It seems that national team head coach Tab Baldwin was aware of the impending mischief.
Coach Tab warned us about these cheap tactics last night after the game vs Japan.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
Chinese team staying w/ us at Kempinski Hotel. All other teams inc. Gilas in another, official hotel. That's not following the Fiba rules.— Manny V. Pangilinan (@iamMVP) October 3, 2015
One could dismiss that as simply fortuitous, no matter how blatantly unfavorable to our side. The problem was, delays peculiarly carried on even when the team finally reached the stadium.
Of course, we all know what happened during the actual game itself. One netizen took the liberty of compiling all the moments of head-scratching officiating:
I made this video for the bad calls by the FIBA ASIA referees.. Kayo na po ang humusga..Posted by Michael Abarra on Sunday, October 4, 2015
While its true our boys clearly had a rough night on both ends of the floor, blowing free throws and wide open shots, the unnecessary bothersome conditions made the country's all-important bid even more arduous. And while we're not discrediting China's skill level, Gilas 3.0 might've put up a better fight if not for those pre- and in-game extracurriculars.
Still, national team officers were grateful (and amusing at the same time).
Mr. Ricky Vargas: "Thank you Alaska, Barako, Global Port, Meralco, NLEX, ROS, TNT & Marc Pingris"… https://t.co/HnmGqJxpih— Chot Reyes (@coachot) October 4, 2015
In other news, local Chinese food-oriented fast food chain Chowking has already reacted to the call for its boycott, following the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship's outcome.
Wala po kaming kinalaman sa panalo ng China! Kung may lutuan pong nangyayari, sa kusina lang po namin yun. ;) #GilasPilipinas— Chowking (@chowking_ph) October 3, 2015