Someone asked me how my blog and newspaper column came to be titled "Bleachers Brew". It's like this, it's an amalgam of sorts of two things: The bleachers area in the stadium/arena where I used to sit when I would watch baseball, football, and basketball games and Miles Davis' great jazz album Bitches Brew. That's how it got culled together. I originally planned on calling it "The View from the Big Chair" that is a nod to Tears For Fear's second album, Songs from the Big Chair. So there.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Gilas Pilipinas: It’s time to show what “Gilas" truly means

This appears in the Monday August 17, 2015 edition of the Business Mirror.

It’s time to show what “Gilas’ truly means
by rick olivares pic from Business Mirror

Look, we’re not stupid. 

With Marc Pingris begging off from the national team ending any participation from any players from the San Miguel Corporation teams, the battle lines are never more pronounced and never more clear. Corporate rivalry extends all the way to the national team. 

The old creed of "God and country" has been replaced by “company and club.” To be fair, you can take that a step down further, “school and country.” Yes, through the decades, we have seen colleges prevent the participation of its players because it hampers their team’s drive for a championship. 

I’m thinking of those Special Action Force troopers who went to battle without the proper back-up and support.

And this…. this puts the gains of the 2013 FIBA Asia and 2014 FIBA World Championships at stake. 

Before I tackle that, I have a couple of questions…

Is it perhaps that people from the other group want a bigger stake at the SBP? Even the selection of the head coach came down to people from one side. So is there some beef by the other side to that?

I want to know if any PBA team owner offered thanks or sympathies to MVP when we struck out in the FIBA World Cup hosting bid?

Let’s admit it — we are a divided basketball nation for various various reasons. But when you think about it they are rather silly and selfish.

If you look at that Yugoslavian team of the late 1980s that featured such luminaries like Drazen Petrovic, Vlade Divac, Zarko Paspalj, Toni Kukoc, and Dino Radja among others, they played as a team until civil war tore their country apart. Prior to that, they were a team of disparate ethnicities, religions, and political beliefs that played great ball. Until several of them became NBA stars no one knew them.

Is it a must that we field the best possible team? While all-star teams do not guarantee a gold medal — even the United States knows that all too well - it does increase one’s chances. However, teams win built not only on personnel but its system.

The 1984 US Olympic Team that was coached by Bobby Knight is a prime example. That team did not feature the best college stars but also those who played well during the tryouts. Charles Barkley and John Stockton come to mind and this was before they achieved greatness in the NBA. Other players who turned in strong performances during the trials were Johnny Dawkins and Chuck Person. The selection of Steve Alford from Knight’s Indiana team was controversial because he was hardly the best player during the trials. The team was chosen for one reason alone — they were chosen not solely on talent but because they would run Knight’s system without fail and question.

The team that went to the 2014 FIBA World Championship was bereft of many of the United States’ best players. They declined for various reasons. While the team was still composed of NBA stars and a few holdovers from their 2010 lineup, it was the youngest American team since 1992 when NBA players or professionals were first allowed to play. There was Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Kenneth Faried who in my opinion was the team’s breakout star, DeMar DeRozan, Mason Plumlee, and Andre Drummond. Yet they still walloped some of the other veteran-laden international squads.

Yes, it’s the Americans who are the best basketball players the world will ever see. Let’s not kid ourselves. As many coaches have previously said, everyone else is competing for the silver and bronze.

Back to the Philippine Men’s National Team, since 2008, there has not been one national team that never has its roster questioned. Even the historic team from the 2013 FIBA Asia faced personnel challenges. Now, it is funny how people forget that even that lineup was criticized as it still missed quite a few stars.

Whatever team that Tab Baldwin will field might not be the best but it is the best given the circumstances. I for one am curious to see who makes the final lineup and who the new additions will be. 

It is the time to stop moping about who we don’t have and to cheer who we have. I guess it is our fate that we as Filipinos must forever have to scrap and prove ourselves. We’ve had the talent and the skill but not the height. We had to rely on cross pollination to improve the gene pool. 

The nickname of the team is “Gilas” that translates in English to “mettle” or “prowess.”

That is exactly what they are going to do. It’s time once more to show Asia and the guys from the other corporate side what we’ve got. Even if we’ve got one arm tied behind our back.

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