Reality Check

The classification phase was supposed to be a cakewalk for Team Pilipinas, the calm before the proverbial storm. The thinking was Gilas 3.0 would breeze through this round, all while perfecting Coach Tab Baldwin’s swing offense and fine-tuning every weapon in the arsenal. The team, after all, was grouped with a trio of “lightweights”—Palestine, Hong Kong, and Kuwait.

Palestine vs Gilas Pilipinas

No one expected the storm to come right at day one, though.

In a shocking reversal, Palestine pulled the rug from under Team Pilipinas, storming back at the tail end of the final canto to nip Gilas 3.0, 75-73. It was a game that the Palestinians had no business winning—on paper, at least. Yet they managed to hang around, time and again tugging on the coattails of Gilas, which had looked good early on in establishing a 27-12 lead in the first quarter. In the end, Team Palestine hung around long enough to unleash a fiery, giant-killing 13-2 windup that broke the collective hearts of Filipino basketball fans.

Let it be known now that there will be no cakewalk for Gilas 3.0.

Let it be known, too, that Team Pilipinas needs to get its act together soon—real soon.

Sani Sankanini salim-sakakini-vs-asi-taulava
Sani and Salim Sakakini

Palestine exposed the Philippines in plain view, all for everyone to see. That second place finish in the recent Jones Cup was all smoke and mirrors, an illusion that the team was coming along just fine when in fact, it wasn’t.

To put it simply, Gilas 3.0 is a long ways to go before it can even challenge for the gold. This team, as the Palestinians showed, is woefully underprepared, both on offense and on defense. Offensively, plays broke down one too many times, often resulting in unsuccessful one-on-one forays. The ball did not swing crisply and continuously, just as the players did not move in perfect harmony. Defensively, break downs occurred early and often, from missed assignments to blown coverage to late closeouts.


To be fair, Gilas 3.0 is pretty much a new team, with only five holdovers from the well-prepared and highly successful Gilas 2.0. This iteration of Team Philippines had only two months to prepare, and even then, it was hampered by all sorts of bad luck, notably injuries and personal matters. Only recently has this team been able to really practice as one complete unit.

More disconcerting were the brain farts, and the Gilas players committed many of them on both ends. They made sloppy, errant passes. They took head-scratching, highly questionable shots. They committed useless, ticky-tack fouls. They gave up open jumpers, including two in the final minute that led to a pair wide-open straightaway threes.


Fortunately for Gilas, this loss is not the end. The Road to Rio is still open, still there for the taking. If ever there was a good time to lose, that time was now, in the classification phase, at the start of the tournament. But now the grind officially begins. There is no more room for error. Team Pilipinas needs to take care of business, and that means wins over Hong Kong today and Kuwait on Friday to advance to the next phase.

If this version of Gilas is to entertain any thought of winning it all in Changsa, lots of work still needs to be done, as this loss to Palestine showed. But if there is one thing Gilas 3.0 has proven, it is that they are willing to put in all the work needed to win the gold. These guys have worked hard enough already, and they will surely work even harder for flag and country, especially now that they have been given a cold-blooded reality check by a lightweight.


So yes, Gilas Pilipinas suffered a humbling loss, but all is not lost—not yet at least. This team will make adjustments. It will play better. These players are too good to not play better. They are too proud to not put up a gallant stand.

There will be plenty of second-guessing for now, for sure, but one thing is for certain: Gilas 3.0 still has a chance. That’s all the Filipinos can ever ask for.

martin-bolimaWritten by Martin Dale D. Bolima.

Martin is a copy editor for the University Press of First Asia. He is an avid sports fan. He used to keep a sports blog at

5 Responses to Reality Check

  1. rv says:

    Laban Pilipinas will win versus Hong Kong and Kuwait in the next 2 days! GOD BLESS the Philippine Basketball team…

    • August Caparas Fernando says:

      They just bamboozled Hongkong to the tune of 101-50… Had they lost to this HK team, Gilas should have packed up and gone to Siberia!

  2. ram says:

    Castro is too tentative offensively. there are times that he is open yet he choose to pass the ball. Gilas is inconsistent in defense, poor with their outside shooting, and they took too many fouls and TO’s. Their lack of cohesiveness is also evident.

    • Martin says:

      Oo nga, parang tentative si Castro kahapon. Di kaya nag-a-adjust pa siya sa system ni Baldwin? Parang he’s trying to be a more traditional point guard. Hopefully, the team picks up the intensity on defense. I think that would be the key, as well as yung three point shooting. Too many misses kahapon, and marami dun open naman. Pero Laban Pilipinas pa rin! Suporta pa rin sana tayo.

  3. August Caparas Fernando says:

    If there are two things Phil teams must check before they totally broke down, it is this: 1. Throw away their PATENTED 4th qtr meltdown…. 2. Improve their DISMAL FREE SHOOTING… 3. Do not get the ball to Castro/William at the dying seconds in a very close game. This dude is not a real finisher in the mold of Jimmy A;apag. Castro had doen it twice already. Remember during the last seconds of Gilas 2.0 vs Croatia in Spain when he was free to tie or won the close game? Instead of firing the rim, he fired a pass to an out-of-position Chan. Who missed. And the game was lost. This one against Palestine, Castro could again have tied or won the game. He chose to pass to a surprised Blatche at the far end of the court. DUH!

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