2017

“The Lord our God spoke to us in Horeb, saying: ‘You have dwelt long enough at this mountain. Turn and take your journey, and go to the mountains of the Amorites, to all the neighboring places in the plain, in the mountains and in the lowland, in the South and on the seacoast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the River Euphrates. See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to give to them and their descendants after them.’” – Deuteronomy 1:6-8 NKJV

It’s a Joy

A song I wrote a long time ago. Circa 2002.

I.

Lord, it’s my delight

to give You praise

I want to honor You

in this life You’ve saved

II.

You took me from

the depth of my sins

and made me sit with You

in the heavenly realms

Pre-Chorus

Now You’re calling me

You’re sending me

Oh, just hear me say

My utmost pray’r

Chorus:

Let them know it’s Your hand

Let them see it’s Your glory

Make your face

shine upon me

That’s the cry of my heart

My Lord, my Master

I’m (just) Your servant

It’s a joy to give You glory

Bridge:

To see you in my life

high and lifted up

enthroned in this temple

You have sanctified

This is my heart’s desire…

 

On Gilas (Semis and Final)

Against Japan

As expected, Gilas beat Japan to advance to the gold medal match. Japan put up a good fight. They were within striking distance until the last few minutes of the game until Gilas came up with big shots in the final quarter. Just like in their first game, I was expecting a blow-out win by Gilas. That’s why it was a drag to see the game really close. It wasn’t that Gilas wasn’t playing really well, but it seemed that this Japanese team has really improved tremendously. Since the Jones Cup, they have shown big potential. And they have proven it here in the Fiba-Asia Tournament.

Hie Jima was unconscious in the first half, scoring 22 points. Luckily, GIlas’ defense picked up in the second half and they managed to limit Hie Jima to only 6 points after that. The most important factor was Hontiveros finally catching fire. The whole nation already know what he is capable of doing and he showed it in this game. Hontiveros hit 6 triples, the last being the dagger that sealed the win for Gilas. As usual, Blatche and Castro were the consistent contributors on the offensive side.

Although I’m very excited to see the Gilas-China match, I don’t really care who wins anymore. To see this Gilas team reach the final despite the odds against them, I feel that they have already overachieved. Though of course, I have always believed that Pilipinas Basketbol has always been one of the best in Asia.

Against China

Again, I’ve always felt that we could beat any team in Asia at this point, especially if we have the best players available. This Chinese team is very strong and talented, but still inexperienced. They have shown some mettle though, in their games against Korea. Down by 20, they came back strong in the fourth quarter to steal that game. That was a strong statement to the rest of the field that this Chinese team is a force to be reckoned with.

Based on what I saw, they were beatable. But of course, I have to give credit to the Chinese coaching staff. They really prepared against Gilas. Castro and Romeo were tightly guarded all throughout the game. That was the difference- those two guys not producing enough numbers for the team.

Looking at the stat sheet, the second half were almost even. Gilas was not outrebounded by a lot. We even had more steals than China. Fouls were almost equal as well. It was China’s energy in the late first quarter and the whole of second quarter that separated those two teams.

And so I thought, especially for this game, if we had Fajardo and Lassiter on the team, we could have beaten China loud and clear. But that is that. Back-to-back silver medals are not bad at all.

Final thoughts

We have once again proven that we really are one of the best in Asia. And the gap is very narrow now. China, Iran, Korea, Gilas, are all right up there. On a given night, any team can beat the other. It’s that close.

On Gilas

I just finished watching the quarterfinal match-up between Gilas Pilipinas and Lebanon. Before the game, I was really excited and tensed at the same time since the Gilas hasn’t played Lebanon in probably about 3 years. Lebanon wasn’t able to participate in the last edition of the Fiba Asia when Fiba suspended them due to internal conflicts within their governing basketball body. You can’t really say that Lebanon has been playing solidly throughout the tournament but they have shown flashes of the old Lebanese team during El Khatib’s time. They got big wins against Chinese Taipei and Jordan, with the latter win giving them the ticket to the quarterfinals.

It was pretty close all throughout the game. Just when you think Gilas was going to pull away, Lebanon kept coming back. Lebanon got as close as 4 points at least a couple of times in the last few minutes but with the combined scoring prowess of Castro and Blatche, Gilas was able to finish strong, winning the game, 82-70.

I really like the combined efforts of the boys especially on the defensive end. You can really see that they are very committed to playing defense. You have to admire the hustle efforts of Abueva, Norwood, Ganuelas and Pingris. Those guys are on the team for that very purpose.

Tomorrow we play against a team we defeated in the second round- Japan. I have no doubt in my mind that Gilas can and will once again get the job done and enter the final for the second time in a row.

Where are the expected players?

Much have been said about those players who were expected to comprise the team. As a fan, I felt quite disappointed considering how well we performed in the World Cup last year. I thought that this edition of the Fiba Asia is our best chance to finally get not just the elusive gold, but also the ticket to the Rio Olympics next year. That is, if we could have the best lineup.

I look at the 16-man pool and I’m like, man, if only this player were here, we could be a lot more stronger. I followed their games when they went to Estonia. You could see that the cohesion wasn’t perfect yet. Also, Blatche was obviously out of shape. But to their credit, though they lost all their 3 games there, it was clear that they improved in each game they played.

That improvement was more evident in the Jones Cup. I really like their games against the Russian Club Team and New Zealand. Against Russia, they were really tested physically and mentally. The Russians were tough, and they were fighters. But Gilas wouldn’t be denied as they won in double digits. The game against New Zealand was a thriller. Down by double digits in the 4th quarter, the Gilas boys came roaring back to force the game into overtime. Hontiveros, who’s been around like forever, exploded for 11 points in OT to get us the victory. He actually scored all of Gilas’ points in OT. We lost our games against Iran and Korea but I thought that with Blatche in the lineup, it would different.

Fiba Asia time! 

I honestly believed that we would just breeze through the first round. I wasn’t able to watch the first game live, but I was shell shocked when I saw the news- Palestine beat Gilas, 75-73. I seriously couldn’t believe it. A first timer in the competition, beating Gilas?

But that loss became a spark for the team to take their game to the next level. They would win the next two games in the first round against Hong Kong and Kuwait by an average margin of 48.5 points.

Gilas swept all three games in the second round. That included the all important game against defensing champion Iran. Boy, were they so fired up or what. Their performance against Iran especially in the second half was a sight to behold. I thought that if they would play with that level of intensity on a consistent basis, no team in Asia would beat them. Their average margin in this round was 18.3 points.

Final Four again

Gilas has now reached the final four of the Fiba Asia for the third time in a row. In 2011, we finished fourth behind China, Jordan and Korea. In 2013, we reached the final but lost to Iran. And now in this 2015 edition, we are now once again in the semifinals.

I’m quite confident that we will win against Japan tomorrow. China and Iran will battle it out on the other side of the bracket. That should be a very interesting game.

I’m kind of hoping that China would win. I’d like to see Gilas beating China in the final, right in their home court. That would be totally a blast.

Hats off to the boys

Those guys have done nothing so far but proving critics wrong. The way each player is contributing to the team, I can only conclude that this is THE best team that we have. Those guys are on the battlefield, making huge sacrifices for the country, we can only be proud of the them. I believe in this team. I believe in each player’s capacity to make a great contribution in the semis and (I claim it now) in the final. Lastly, I also believe in Tab Baldwin’s genius mind. They can do this. Two more wins to Rio.

#LabanPilipinas #Puso #FibaAsia2015 #Gilas