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.

Friday, August 11, 2017

Five of Gilas Pilipinas’ biggest wins

Five of Gilas’ biggest wins
by rick olivares

You can chalk up that 96-87 win over China in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup as one of the most important victories in the Gilas program’s history (let alone national team history).

No naturalized player (Andray Blatche). No top big man (June Mar Fajardo who was injured). And a key missing piece (Calvin Abueva who was ejected early in the first quarter). Only one complete practice prior to departure for Lebanon. No big tune-up games.

There was a sense of impending doom facing China, the defending champions. Some even wondered if the nationals would make it out of the group phase. That is totally understandable. But as they have wont to be know – nagpakita na naman ng gilas ang Pilipino.

Sure, China was minus key players from their 2015 triumph in Changsa as they opted to send a younger side that was still tall. That sort of evens things out as the Philippines was missing some players from that finals match-up two years ago.

Yet in a classic case of David versus Goliath, the former slew the giant. And now is in an improbable position to top Group B.

2013 FIBA Asia vs Korea 86-79
After decades of heartbreak against Korea, the Philippines fashions out a brilliant win and end game stand to repulse their tormentors to enter the gold medal match. The win ensure a medal finish but more importantly, ushered the Philippines back onto the world stage as it gained an outright entry to the 2016 FIBA World Cup.

2014 FIBA World Cup vs Senegal 81-79
There are two ways to look at the Philippines’ participation in the FIBA World Cup – one, is the team didn’t make it past the group stage. But two, on the bright side, in four of the Philippines’ losses, they fell by an average of 5.5 points. Save for the loss to Greece, the other three games were lost in the final minute of play - 81-78 to Croatia in overtime, 85-81 to Argentina, and 77-73 versus Puerto Rico.

The swan song for the nationals was an 81-79 win over Senegal that gave every Filipino a measure of pride.

2015 FIBA Asia
87-73 vs Iran
82-70 vs Lebanon.

The 2015 FIBA Asia Cup produced two huge wins – an 87-73 triumph against Iran and an 82-70 beating of Lebanon.

Both West Asian countries have proven to be a thorn in the Philippines’ side. Aside from China and Korea, Iran was another country that loomed large as its seven-foot center Hamad Haddadi.

After taking a shock 75-73 loss against tiny Palestine, the Philippines rebounded in the second round with a huge 87-73 win over Iran. This allowed them to avoid an early meeting with powerhouse China. Not to say that it was easy. Iran previously demolished opponents by an average of 45 points. Yet in this second round game, Andray Blatche befuddled Haddadi who lost his cool and Jayson Castro destroyed Iranian counterpart Mahdi Kamrani.

Then in the knockout quarterfinals, the Filipinos upended Lebanon, 82-70.

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