Gilas gets outpouring of support

THOUGH Smart Gilas Pilipinas fell short of achieving its ultimate goal of getting the gold medal in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, the Filipino people still commended the team’s campaign in the tournament.

No less than Malacañang Palace led the outpouring of support and gratitude to the national team as it released a statement to celebrate the team’s achievement in the Asian championship in Changsa, China.

‘’We join the Filipino People in celebrating Gilas Pilipinas’ silver medal finish in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship,’’ said the statement issued by Presidential Spokesperson Edwin Lacierda. ‘’Throughout this tournament, our team displayed the Philippines’ brand of selfless, creative, passionate basketball fueled by the warm and vocal support of Filipinos at home and abroad. Our people have shown the world what it means to be Filipino. This serves as inspiration for all of us to work even harder in our respective endeavors, fulfill our individual potential and secure the national pride we have reclaimed, one success after another in varying fields.’’

‘’We congratulate our players, our coaches, our supporters and we encourage all our countrymen to continue their support for our athletes in general and for Gilas Pilipinas, in particular, as they continue to pursue our collective basketball dream of landing a berth in the 2016 Olympics.’’

The Philippines duplicated its second-place finish in 2013 and once again grabbed the silver in this year’s edition of the FIBA Asia tilt.

Though Smart Gilas lost to China, 67-78, late Saturday night in the championship game, its run in the tournament is considered a success.

Overall, the Filipinos were able to compile a total record of 7-2 in the tournament, only losing its opening game against Palestine and the match against China in the finals.

What lies ahead now for Smart Gilas is a tougher route to its goal of making it to the 2016 Rio Olympics.

With its Top 4 finish, the Philippines qualified for the wild-card tournament next year against other top teams in the world which will try to qualify to the Olympics in Rio.

The FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament will be held in July next year. It will feature 18 teams divided into three groups.

The 15 of the 18 countries have already been determined and they are Eurobasket campaigners France, Serbia, Greece, Italy and Czech Republic; FIBA Americas teams Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico; Angola, Tunisia and Senegal in the AfroBasket side; Asian countries Philippines, Iran and Japan and New Zealand representing the FIBA Oceania side.

The winning teams from each group will earn the three spots still available for the 2016 Olympics.

Smart Gilas will look to retool its line-up to make it stronger. Team management is expected to pursue the eligibility of Filipino-American NBA player Jordan Clarkson to boost the squad in future competitions.

Gilas top gun Jayson Castro cemented his status as Asia’s top point guard after he was named to the Mythical Team once more.

Meanwhile, Senators Sonny Angara and Nancy Binay also lauded the team for its silver-medal finish.

“Really proud of what the team has achieved. We could say that our Gilas team’s determination and grit certainly triumphed over great odds and circumstantial misfortunes,” said Angara, chair of the Senate committee on games, amusement and sports.

Senator Binay said Gilas Pilipinas exemplifies the courage and the strength of the Filipino - to overcome and to succeed, even if the odds are stacked against him. Gilas Pilipinas showed the world the big heart that every Filipino has.

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