The record books will show our country's 1-4 win-loss tally at the 2014 FIBA World Cup—a record that, technically, might seem unspectacular. We all know this isn't the case. The circumstances surrounding our run—an appearance that took nearly four decades, punctuated by near-wins and the display of pure grit—are far more important than the final scores.
The lessons that these circumstances have shaped are what we seek to identify in the list below. So, beyond the box score, here are five things that Gilas Pilipinas have taught us through a week of riveting basketball!
1) Never underestimate the heart of a nation that loves basketball this much
Former Houston Rockets coach, Rudy Tomjanovich, once said: "Never underestimate the heart of a champion." Though being a champion on the world stage—at our most conservative estimate—may be decades away, we showed that we could fight like champs.
Prior to the start of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, a considerable portion among us didn't believe in Gilas Pilipinas, relegating our participation as a mere formality. Boy were they wrong. They predicted that Gilas would get blown out by Argentina, Greece, Croatia, and Puerto Rico—with the only game ever coming close, the one against Senegal. And even then, they thought it would take a miracle for the team to beat the African champs.
Technically, their predictions were spot-on—except that the scripts that led to these results were completely off-base. Gilas' performance made the disbeliever eat their words, and so good was their performance, that the disbeliever has never been happier to eat his own faithless words.
Image via FIBA.com
2) Gilas Pilipinas united us in ways that even a Pacquiao fight couldn't do
Like so many others over the past two weeks, we lost our mind watching these games. We cheered, screamed, and cursed, believing that something special was about to happen. At one point, we may have even professed our undying love to Jimmy Alapag if he and LJ Moreno don’t work out.
This kind of united devotion to a singular (sporting) cause hasn’t been felt in, well, ever. Not even Manny Pacquiao’s fights brought us this much affection and accompanying pride and heart break. His fights came with expectations of winning. These games came with expectations of not getting blown out that turned into hope of shocking the basketball world.
We howled with pride over every three point shot Chan and De Ocampo made, high-fiving and chest-bumping fellow Pinoys - and some foreigners to boot - in sports bars as the game went along. If anything, it proved that the team’s passion to fight and willingness to limp for the cause were rallying cries we all got behind passionately.
Image via FIBA.com