Kudos to our Philippine National Team! The Smart Gilas is currently on a hot streak in the ongoing FIBA Asia Championships in China, and is looking to officially get past the quarterfinals with a victory against Chinese Taipei today, September 23.
A proof of their looming success: Smart Gilas has since defeated five different national teams, forcing their way into the Iran-China debate, also known as the two favorite teams to win the championships. Not to get ahead of ourselves, but a possible clinch at the London Olympics in 2012 is getting clearer by the day.
All the same, who and where to credit the team’s success? We have five things in mind:
Underrated and underdogs
Nobody outside of the Philippines believes that the Smart Gilas will actually pull off a victory over FIBA heavyweights China and Iran, let alone win the FIBA Asian Championships. And so a good number of national teams found themselves getting caught by surprise, with potential semifinalists Japan and Jordan suffering upset losses against the Smart Gilas. Team Pilipinas, in fact, has once defeated the Iran national team back in the FIBA Jones Cup.
Smart Gilas is fast gaining notoriety for their aggression; countries like the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain are losing in a blowout fashion against our National team. The former lost by a staggering 40 points, while the latter went home with a 42-point deficit. No winning match in fact came from a close ballgame, with the team winning not less than 7 points in the games that followed.
Let’s give the height factor to every other team, the Philippine team concedes. But with a line-up consisting of the guard combinations of Alapag, Casio, Barroca, and Tiu, all of them championing the frequent fastbreak plays for the team, other countries ended up having a hard time catching up with the Philippines’ rapid offense. And you can only do so much when you’re down 40 points.
A consistent go-to-guy
Leading the FIBA Championships in scoring (18.7) and the team in rebounding (10.5) is Marcus Douthit, who has had 3 double-doubles and has consistently scored in double figures en route to a four-game winning streak. While the Syracuse big man plays as a mere import for the Smart Gilas, the entire roster has learned to center their offense on him, resulting to a 61% field goal percentage. Sweet!
That gut feeling
Those who, like us, had a gut feeling that this will be a good year for Philippine basketball – let’s all give each other a solid pat on the back. Chemistry is written all over our national team, and winning five games – and losing only to China – can only heighten our expectations. We’re no psychics or hoops experts to say that the Smart Gilas will win the FIBA Championships, but a semifinals berth sure sounds attainable to us. A battle for 2nd or 3rd place in fact, is more probable.