Gilas Pilipinas’ 86-79 semifinal victory over South Korea Saturday night brought the Philippines back to the World basketball map with its return to the Fiba World Cup for the first time since 1978.
It has been that long, 35 years, since the last time we played against the best players of the world.
But it’s also a fitting moment to make a solid return to the World basketball championships as Gilas Pilipinas did it with much help from every Filipino basketball-crazy fan who cheered at the Mall of Asia Arena, prayed for the national team and made known their support via Twitter and Facebook.
Gilas Pilipinas’ historic return to the Fiba Asia men’s championship round since the national team’s last Asian title in 1985, along with its trip back to the Fiba World championship in 35 years, was a testament to the hard work and dedication of all the players, coaching staff and everyone else who chipped in to see this dream become a reality.
Marc Pingris, who stepped up big-time in the absence of injured naturlized big man Marcus Douthit in the second half, credited all to God while taking the time to thank the millions of Filipinos who prayed for the team.
“Maraming salamat kay God at nakapasok kami dito (Fiba-Asia championship round). Pinaghirapan namin ito. Siyempre, mahirap mawalay sa pamilya namin, asawa at anak namin. Salamat sa lahat ng mga sumuporta sa amin at nagdasal sa amin, kayo ang nagbigay ng lakas sa amin,” said Pingris in an emotionally-charged post-game talk with the media.
Pingris, who gave three inches in height in his battle against South Korea’s Lee Seung Jun, finished the game with 16 points and 10 rebounds as his game-long intensity injected the much-needed energy to Gilas Pilipinas.
Congratulations to Gilas Pilipinas! Congratulations to every Filipino!