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Great Smart Gilas article below by its resident reporter. This reflects how seriously committed filipino basketball officials, coaches, players and fans are in the smart gilas experiment.

Smart Gilas Year One: The Thousand Mile Journey

Quote:Sunday, March 7, 2010

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Thousand Mile Journey

[Image: Gilas+in+Serbia.jpg]

This appears in the Monday March 8 edition of the Business Mirror. The picture above is Gilas in Serbia.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One

Part 1: The Thousand-Mile Journey

by rick olivares

Inside the dugout of the Smart Gilas Men’s National Basketball Team at the Al Ahli Club in Dubai, the atmosphere was festive as the team celebrated their third place finish in the 21st Dubai International Tournament. The Nationals beat the import-laden Al Jalaa Syria 107-98 to repay them for their opening day loss that touched off an incredible comeback that saw them come within four points of making the finals.

Head Coach Rajko Toroman was being interviewed outside the dugout when Demetric Shaw, one of Al Jalaa’s American imports, came over. Seconds later, Toroman ushered Shaw inside and the room quickly fell silent.

“We were stunned. We didn’t know why Shaw was inside. I thought maybe he was looking for a fight.” wondered team captain Chris Tiu. In the battle for third place, the Filipinos frustrated Shaw with their tough play.

“Tell them what you told me,” said a beaming Toroman.

Shaw, the muscular 6’3” guard out of Kent State University who once scored a FIBA record of 74 points for Halcones in the Mexican League said, “From the beginning of the tournament, you are the only team that played with great pride for your country, incredible passion as a team, and the determination to be better. It was an honor to play against you.”

The room exploded with thunderous applause.

“It was the easiest comment to make.” explained Shaw a few weeks after the tournament. “When I played against them, I felt proud of how they honored themselves and their country with a never-say-die attitude. Mahram was a team of superstars but it was great to see an undersized Philippine team fight with everything they had. And I thank them for reminding me why I started playing in the first place.”

Toroman’s face lit up with elation. After months of hardship, struggle, controversy, and infighting, the third place finish was a clear vindication of the path he and his boys had taken.

It had been 13 months since Gilas’ initial foray into international competition. Year One began with a win and now they closed it out in familiar fashion.

It was the only time in their two weeks abroad that Toroman managed a smile. He exhaled and rejoined the party inside the locker room.

After their Middle Eastern sojourn, the team logged 35,826 miles across eight countries in four continents – China, Serbia, America, Indonesia, Japan, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. But they were hardly a Filipino version of the Harlem Globetrotters. They flew in the business class of basketball -- a quixotic quest to regain the country’s lost standing in the world stage of basketball.

The Gilas project closely resembled that of the fabled Northern Consolidated Cement team of the 1980’s. Unlike the NCC team was kept together for six years, Gilas from its inception in November 2008 is a three-year program with the ultimate goal of bagging one of two slots allotted for Asia in the 2012 London Olympics.

To understand that undertaking, one has to realize how the world has changed in the fastest growing sport in the world today.

When the Philippines finished 3rd in the 1954 World Championships, the only other Asian country to compete was Formosa (now Taiwan). The last time the Philippines won the FIBA Asia Championship was in 1973 and the Asian basketball powers were China, South Korea, and Japan.

Today, the West Asian countries like Iran, Lebanon, and Jordan just to name a few have become powers in their own right. Korean legend Shin Dong Pa asserts that his country’s decline can be attributed to the American game diluting their style. It’s erroneous considering the world has yet to see a hip-hop slam-dunking Korean brother. The simple truth is -- the rest of the world has caught up.

For Filipinos everywhere, it was a bitter pill to swallow.

When Emmanuel “Noli” Eala, first conceived the Gilas Project, he was still Commissioner of the PBA. The RP-San Mig National Team that competed in the FIBA Asia Tokushima games of 2007 was the vanguard of that dream. But after the disappointing eighth place finish, the team was disbanded and the PBA said no to another pro-laden team.

However, Eala had a back up plan. When he replaced Patrick Gregorio as the Executive Director of the fledging SBP, he secured approval for the formation of a team of collegiate stars aided by a sprinkling of Fil-foreigners and one naturalized player. “The only way we could pull this off was to keep a team together for a three-year period, teach them the proper skills, and learn the international game by playing abroad.” opined Eala.

Unlike NCC that started out with eight Americans and Fil-Ams, Gilas had only three – Joey Deas, a 5’11” point guard out of Rockhurst College in Kansas City, Terrell Theophile, a 6’7” forward from NAIA school St. Gregory’s University, and Gregory Slaughter, the University of Visayas Lancers’ massive 6’11” center by way of Fredericksburg, Virginia.

The other members of the squad were San Beda College’s Ogie Menor, the University of the East’s Marcy Arellano, the University of Santo Tomas’ Dylan Ababou, the University of the Philippines’ Martin Reyes and Magi Sison, and Far Eastern University’s Mark Barroca, Marnel Baracael, and JR Cawaling.

At that point Jayvee Casio and Jason Ballesteros who had already graduated from college, were mulling over the invitation to join Gilas while playing in the PBL.

The team’s first strength and conditioning coach was Dan Rose. Albert Gerald Rolle, the team’s current Physical Therapist who also works in that capacity for the Adamson Falcons in the UAAP, was loaned from the Women’s National Team.

With only two weeks of practice, Gilas went to China to compete in the 1st ASEAN CBO Men’s Invitational Basketball tournament in the southern province of Guangxi. They swept all five of their matches including a pulsating 76-72 win over host China en route to the championship.

“That was my first time to be in the national team,” remembered Sison. “When we won, I told myself, ‘What a way to start.’”

“I didn’t think we’d win this fast but we did.” noted Toroman. “It was a great start. But the competition really wasn’t that good. We told ourselves, we will not come back again.”

Gilas won in its baptism of fire but that didn’t deter critics from continuing their broadsides on the team.

Part of the criticism was directed at the hiring of Toroman who was known for having turned Iran’s basketball program around with a FIBA Asia Championship and a Beijing Olympics berth. Previously, he served as an assistant coach in the last united Yugoslavian national team that had future NBA stars like Vlade Divac, Toni Kukoc, Predrag Danilovic, and Dino Radja.

The issue, according to the Basketball Coaches Association of the Philippines, wasn’t the person but the position. “There are more than many qualified Filipino coaches,” they said. But the SBP defended the move. “We all had our chances,” said Eala. “Now is the time to try something else.”

The three-year plan was contingent on signing up top college stars but getting them to sign wasn’t easy. Rico Maierhofer and Menor opted to join the PBA Draft and the decision to pay its players wasn’t received well by many who argued that a salary meant they were no longer amateurs but pros. “We needed to keep them in the program or else we’d lose them to the PBA,” explained Eala.

Former Ateneo team captain Chris Tiu was abroad at the time of the tournament in China. Like most of his teammates, he needed time to think things over. “In the end, I was convinced of the noble idea of trying to bring the country back to a level of prominence,” reflected Tiu. “It’s going to be very difficult but we have to try.”

Barroca on the other hand needed no convincing. As soon as he received the letter of invitation, he attended the tryouts: “Dream ng lahat ng basketbolista maglaro para sa national team. Malaking karangalan yan.”

Ballesteros recalled being disinterested. His coach in the PBL was Allan Gregorio who joined Gilas as an assistant coach, and he egged Ballesteros: “Give it a try. If you don’t like it don’t go back.” The lanky forward-center went and never left.

The team that competed in China was rebooted and new faces like FEU’s Aldrech Ramos, Letran’s RJ Jazul and Rey Guevarra, and Ateneo’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Ford Arao, and Ryan Buenafe joined in. Also on board were assistant coaches Jude Roque and Djalma Arnedo as well as former tennis star turned world-class strength and conditioning coach Jim Saret.

The next task was to recruit a foreigner who would be naturalized.

Despite Toroman’s ties to the old continent, it was decided to acquire the services of an American. “The top Europeans are all playing with big clubs and we will not be able to afford them,” said Toroman. “They have many quality players in America. We just have to find the right one.”

Next: The Fundamental Truths

--------------

My thoughts: Writing about the national team isn't easy. Our culture especially with regards to sports journalism isn't anywhere near the West's. If you ask me, I really wanted to write the whole story of the team after 2012. That way, we can really tell it the way it should be. Unexpurgated too! On the other hand, there's a dearth of stuff about them save for the standard PR. So the series will answer some questions but leave others dangling. Why? For the simple reason that it isn't over and I am not sure how it will turn out.

In writing this, I did extensive interviews with a lot of people. Thanks to Demetric Shaw for his honesty and willingness to share his thoughts. To SBP and Gilas officials and to the players. This is just Part 1. The original draft of Part 1 ran up to eight-plus pages. But within the finite space of a newspaper -- and I already have a lot of leeway with Business Mirror -- it was impossible so I had to remove stuff. Perhaps another time? In the meantime, hope you like it.

Posted by Rick Olivares
part 2 of rick olivares' magnum opus on smart gilas..... Smile

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Fundamental Truths


Quote:Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Fundamental Truths

[Image: Impact+Camp.JPG]

The Joe Abunassar Impact Camp in Las Vegas March 2009. This story appears in the Wednesday March 10 edition of the Business Mirror.

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One

Part 2 The Fundamental Truths

by rick olivares

When Smart Gilas Pilipinas arrived in the Nikola Tesla International Airport in Belgrade, Serbia in March of 2009, they went there to learn first hand the kind of motion offense that Rajko Toroman was preaching to them. It was one thing to be taught the system but it was altogether a different experience to see it executed by the masters of Euroball.

By the end of the trip, two incidents, would impact the team in its formation and in the future.

The first came almost immediately -- at immigration.

The duty officer inquired about their business in Serbia. For the players, it was obvious they were in the business of basketball. With the coaching staff, after Toroman, he seemed incredulous about the veracity of assistants Allan Gregorio, Jude Roque, and Djalma Arnedo. “You’re basketball coaches?” he asked in a disbelieving tone. The officer wasn’t being punked, Toroman assured, and the officer stamped their travel papers with a wry smile and a shake of the head.

It was a funny moment and the incident became a staple of in-house jokes. But it gnawed at SBP Executive Director Noli Eala.

During the formation of Gilas, some of those who first came on board initially offered their services for free. The lure of the national team is universal but what also made the venture particularly very attractive was the fact that business tycoon and SBP President Manuel V. Pangilinan was backing it.

Toroman wasn’t keen on having too many assistants after all he got along fine by his lonesome when he coached Iran. But the Islamic Republic and the Philippine Republic are both literally and figuratively oceans apart.

In Iran, his players were obligated to follow his orders after all, they were military conscripts as well. Toroman could amazingly recite the statistics of Mark Caguioa and Asi Taulava among others and offer a detailed scouting report on the RP-San Mig team he faced in Tokushima in 2007. But that was it. He didn’t know anything more. Gregorio and the others were to be the liaison not just to local players but his guides to Philippine culture.

In a team, there can only be one voice. It is no different from others. When Joel Banal was coaching the Ateneo Blue Eagles, he had one rule – it was his voice, only his, that will be heard in the huddle. The same applied to Gilas; you can’t have too many cooks in the kitchen. The assistants, maybe not even the most accomplished in the land, were there to complement Toroman who knew the international game inside and out. And it was his system.

Gilas’ initial foray into international competition in Guangxi was successful although the level of competition wasn’t very good. In Belgrade, they got a close up look at perhaps the best place for basketball outside continental USA. More than a drubbing, the team was given a clinic on the finer points of the play that Toroman espoused: continuous motion, ball movement, flawless execution, and a no-star system.

Assistant Coach Jude Roque after a while stopped watching his own team to marvel the Serbs’ skill. “You could see even the stars of the other teams doing the dirty work such as setting screens, inbounding the ball, playing help defense. It was impressive. Iba talaga sa larong local.”

After the initial drubbing by Metalac Valjevo, Gilas began to play better. But the second realization was painfully obvious -- they needed someone to rebound for them. Jason Ballesteros, Aldrech Ramos, and Greg Slaughter were game but wanting in height, heft, and speed. What they needed was someone to turn the shaded lane into a no-fly zone, hence the importance of selecting an import to be naturalized as it was allowed by FIBA.

When the team returned home, SBP and Gilas officials first took a look at Chris Taft. The 6’10” Taft, a former Pittsburgh Panther, never suited up for the team. Team officials were concerned with his back that eventually forced him out of the NBA after playing for the Golden State Warriors.

The team then flew to Las Vegas to train at the Joe Abunassar Impact Camp. The trip was three-fold in its objectives – to learn once more from a respected training camp, to bond, and to get a first-hand look at about a dozen Fil-foreigners who were invited to try out. It was here where they first met up with Marshall University’s Chris Lutz, a 6’3” guard, McGill University’s Sean Anthony, a 6’4” shooting guard, and former Los Angeles Lakers draftee Chester Jarrel Giles, a 6’10” jumping jack with an incredible wingspan.

Giles, despite having a swirl of controversy surrounding him during his college days, was impressive. SBP Executive Director Noli Eala conducted a background check and surprisingly got positive reviews. “He’s a good kid who got a bad rap,” was the general consensus.

The Seattle native quickly bonded with the nationals. Although team officials noted his propensity for the party life, they quickly dismissed it as a potential problem. “We were in Las Vegas. That’s a party place.” added Roque. “So what’s a guy to do?”

Giles also seemed eager to cast his lot in the Philippines even if he was still hoping to make an NBA roster. “I won’t lie,” he related during the FIBA Champions Challenge Cup in Jakarta where Gilas competed in May of 2009. “The dream is the NBA. But that’s the dream of so many others. Who knows, if I do good in the Philippines, I just might get my shot at the NBA.”

The team pronounced themselves happy with Giles.

Nine months later, the team’s main problems that threatened to tear them asunder were all import related.

--------------

If you're wondering why Part 2 is short, it's because of the space constraints of the newspaper. Even if cyberspace is a different medium, I'd still like to have it the same except when it overly edited then I'd post it here the way I want to. Again it's really long but I figure the other stuff should just be saved for a rainy day. For this series, I am not going to repeat what I previously wrote about the team except if needed to highlight certain matters. I've been talking to a few colleagues of mine about writing the proper book of Gilas. But that will have to come after the whole thing is done. That way, it's more complete and well, fire in the hole! Watch out for the rest of the six-part series:

Part 3 The First Test

Part 4 The Skids

Part 5 The Gulf War

Part 6 The Next Stage

My first ever on Gilas during the team launch at Promenade in Greenhills. http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...-team.html

The three-part series that ran in Biz Mirror before the team left for Jakarta for the FIBA Champions Cup. Read it in descending order. To follow that FIBA campaign, click on May 2009 in the Archives section of the lower left side.

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...minds.html

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...coach.html

http://bleachersbrew.blogspot.com/2009/0...-team.html

Posted by Rick Olivares
part 3..... Smile

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The First Test

Quote:Friday, March 12, 2010

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The First Test

[Image: Gilas+Qadsia.JPG]

The picture above is Smart Gilas' match versus Qadsia Kuwait, the first game they played without CJ Giles. There was a near free-for-all when Mark Barroca knocked down Kuwait's point guard in retaliation for a cheap shot.

This story appears in the Friday March 12 edition of the Business Mirror.

Part 3 The First Test

by rick olivares

“Patch me up, coach. I can play.”

CJ Giles was stretched out on the floor beside one of the entrances to the Britama Arena in Jakarta. The American hurt his knee while challenging a shot by Al Riyadi Lebanon import Nate Johnson and had to be carried out by team trainer Jim Saret and Smart Gilas Pilipinas captain Chris Tiu.

The Philippines led 56-44 when Giles went out. “Hold ‘em off for two minutes, fellas. I’ll be back.”

The game was important for both Gilas and Al Riyadi lost their previous matches and totted a 1-1 slate. If they wanted to keep pace with bracket leader Mahram Iran in the FIBA Asia Champions Cup, they needed the win.

Saret examined Giles and said, “I need to know exactly how you’re feeling. The last thing I want is to send you back there and aggravate your injury.”

At that point, no one was certain the American was going to check back into the game. In the meantime, as the nationals’ lead was slowly being eaten away, a crowd of coaches and trainers from four other countries gathered around Saret who rigged a brace to secure Giles’ knee using tape and leukoplast. It was strong enough to keep the American’s knee in place so it wouldn’t give out from under him. The import, a candidate for naturalization, got up tested it (and it felt good), then made his way to the Philippines’ bench.

“What did you do?” asked one visibly impressed trainer from Iran as if a miracle had been enacted in front of them. “Where did you learn how to do that?”

It was but one accolade in two weeks’ full of them.

Giles came back and it galvanized the team to an improbable 91-86 victory. Mark Barroca was the most sensational player in the tournament. Gilas’ indomitable fighting spirit had the hometown Indonesians and other teams rooting for them; a scene that was to be repeated in Dubai eight months later. And then there was Saret, the former tennis star who became a strength and conditioning coach after a decade at Brigham Young University.

He spent several years working with PBA teams then decided to work with other sports. “I was burned out with basketball,” he said. “I needed a change of pace.”

Yet ironically, he filled in one day during a practice of Gilas and made a huge impression on head coach Rajko Toroman. “Others do things by the book. Jim gives what the players and the team needs.”

Putting together a team that is built solely for international competition needs a paradigm shift.

First there’s the system that is predicated fastbreaks and a motion offense where players set picks, cut, and run to spots on the floor that will free them for shots. It requires players not to be robotical when going through the paces but to be able to read what the defense gives them. The training in Serbia provided a front row seat to what Toroman was preaching.

The international game is shorter by eight minutes and that requires a different mindset. Despite the FIBA rules, one had to constantly be ready because those rules were strangely interpreted differently depending on the country. Gilas needed to adapt to the nuances of the international game where the three-pointer was utilized to devastating effect. On the defensive end, teams employed a variety of zones. Toroman, the Spartan disciplinarian he is, demanded learning this and perfection from his players.

Second, it requires that every player be able to play multiple positions. Previously Mac Baracael played the three-spot in college. In Toroman’s system, he plays both forward positions. In Jakarta, he played the four-spot, a move that raised quite a few eyebrows. But as assistant coach Allan Gregorio explained, “It’s about the quality of the player. And Baracael is as good as they come even if he gives up some height.”

It might have been a surprise to see the former FEU Tamaraw in the line-up more so after the near-fatal try on his person (for still unexplained reasons) while playing out his final year of UAAP college ball. Baracael was good but far from impressive. His teammates – Benedict Fernandez and Mark Barroca were easily the stars and even focal point of the offense. Playing for Smart Gilas, he was a player reborn.

He plays with unbridled passion on both ends of the court and if the phrase “death defying” was coined for someone it would be for Baracael.

The change was also obvious for others. Barroca was freed from the stifling half-court set of FEU and he brought a lot of razzle to the team’s dazzle with a newly-developed killer crossover and a variety of hangtime jumpers and tear drops. Forward Dylan Ababou became more explosive and developed a quick release three-pointer that was almost impossible to defend. Jayvee Casio was a star in college for La Salle and as good as he was, and at the risk of sounding disrespectful, he became much deadlier, developing a stutter step and a crossover en route to the basket in addition to turning out to be a solid playmaker. And there was Jason Ballesteros.

The former San Sebastian center was seen as a bumbling albeit an unrefined one. In the first few months playing for Gilas, he was in Toroman’s doghouse, clueless about the offense and where to go on defense. But towards the end of Jakarta, there were glimpses of how good he could really be. Come Dubai, it wasn’t just how good he had really become, but what he stood for. In Dubai, despite a painful shoulder injury that would plague him even a month after the tournament, he played through it at the risk of damaging it further. It was a stark contrast from an import that was always injured and refused to play through it. Ballesteros was proof of the adage of hard work pays off. And there would be no questioning his heart.

The common denominator in their workouts was the players had to be rebuilt with speed, agility, athleticism, strength, and explosiveness in mind. Said Saret, “I can just help them be in the best possible basketball shape but the rest is up to them.”

The addition of Giles was perfect (once you take away all the non-basketball matters). His gifts allowed him to seamlessly fit right in. He could cover for his teammates’ lapses and errors. And as proof of that, Japeth Aguilar who would join the team four months after Jakarta, played his best ball alongside Giles. If you got past Aguilar on the wings, then players were in for ultimate rejection because they were funneled into Giles’ domain.

More than swatting shots, it was imperative that the big men were able to rebound the ball because that fueled their break and the team had a lot of creative finishers.

By the FIBA Challenge Cup’s end, in their first official competition and in a ten-team field, they finished fifth. In their final matches, they had gone all-Filipino and played superb ball in spite of spotty officiating.

So impressed were opposing teams that Zain Jordan and Al Riyadi Lebanon inquired about acquiring Barroca and Giles. The Japanese Basketball Association, non-participants in the tournament, were so impressed that they invited the Philippine team for a series of exhibition games at their expense.

Things were falling into place yet the team was due for some tweaking. They would get a whole lot more than they bargained for.

Posted by Rick Olivares

smart gilas' sked for the rest of the year...

Gilas toughens up for Asiad with heavy 80-game slate

Quote:Gilas toughens up for Asiad with heavy 80-game slate

03/11/2010 | 04:40 PM

After a strong third place finish in a tough tournament in Dubai, the Smart Gilas Pilipinas team will hardly have time to relax as the Pinoy cagers will embark on an array of training and tournaments abroad prior to their Asian Games campaign in Guangzhou, China in November.

According to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) executive director Noli Eala, the plan is to expose Gilas to as many as 80 games to toughen the Nationals up for the Asiad and in the long run, the Olympic-qualifying Fiba Asia tournament next year.

“We have lined up 80 games for this team this year leading up to the Asian Games. This is by far more than what the PBA teams play and it will help the team get better and better," Eala said.

He said Gilas will undergo training and exposure in Australia, US, Canada and Serbia in between major international competitions like the Fiba Asia Champions Cup, Jones Cup and Fiba Asia Stankovic Cup.

Tuneup games against professional teams in Australia’s National Basketball League will keep Gilas busy this month while a foray in Belgrade will be up in April, and a stint in the US and Canada and participation in the Fiba Asia Champions Cup in Qatar will occupy its time in May.

In June, the squad will return to the Philippines but will still figure in a pocket tournament with Iran, New Zealand and possibly Japan or Korea. The next month will see the Nationals competing in the Jones Cup and Stankovic Cup.

By October, the Gilas cagers will likely go back to the US to play against US NCAA teams before they represent the country in the Guangzhou Asiad on Nov. 12-27.

Such heavy, yearlong schedule is intended to prepare the team for its long-term mission to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics.

And with Gilas’ stellar showing in their recent Middle East sortie, its Serbian coach Rajko Toroman is upbeat about his wards’ ability to deliver the goods.

“The Philippines finished fifth place in the Champions Cup in Jakarta under coach Chot Reyes. This team [Gilas] finished third in Dubai and in the [coming] Asian Games we will be in the Finals. In the 2011 Olympic-qualifying tournament we can be champion. So we are on the right track," said Toroman. - GMANews.TV
smart gilas update...

NoliEala on Twitter

Quote:Gilas beats Australia U19 National team 78-67 in our first game in aussie trip. Aussie team is going to World Jr. Champs in Germany. mabuhay

about 3 hours ago via mobile web

yep. aussie U19 beaten by smart gilas. but to put things in perspective, philippine U18 just got beaten by FEU, a philippine collegiate team. so i guess this doesn't really mean much in gauging smart gilas' strength internationally. Cool
part 4 of the smart gilas saga.....

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Skids

Quote:Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Smart Gilas Pilipinas Year One: The Skids

[Image: 16766_221065205629_745705629_4585329_4205078_n.jpg]

This story appears in the Wednesday March 17, 2010 edition of the Business Mirror.

Part 4 The Skids

by rick olivares

There is nothing textbook about the formation of a national team. Each and every one has its one unique peculiarities, characters, and different sets of circumstances that add to the drama.

For the Smart Gilas Pilipinas National Team, well, even if patterned after the fabled Northern Consolidated Cement team of the 1980’s, there’s no template for it.

After Jakarta, the team made a triumphant return to the country. But the college basketball season was on and with only four players stayed behind to continue to train – Chris Tiu, Jayvee Casio, Mac Baracael, and Jason Ballesteros – as they had finished their schooling. The rest went back to their college teams while CJ Giles tried out for the Orlando Magic’s roster. In that time, Chris Lutz flew in for two weeks to work out and scrimmage with the team. Along with former UST Tiger Emerson Oreta who worked out with Gilas, they played a steady steam of exhibition matches and surprisingly did well beating a number of pro teams that had their full complement of players.

In the international front, national team duties were temporarily taken over by the Powerade team of all-pros that would compete in SEABA and FIBA Asia Men’s Basketball Championship in Tianjin, China.

The other collegiate members of Gilas, for five months, ran other systems and were used rather differently and by the time of their re-entry into the national squad, there was difficulty in assimilating oneself again. Never was this more evident than with Dylan Ababou who played the four-spot with UST (since they lacked a deep bench) and won the UAAP Most Valuable Award at that. With his return to the nationals, he looked lost and out of sync. He had bulked up in a different way that made him slower.

The team meanwhile picked up Japeth Aguilar who stirred a hornet’s nest when he was drafted number one over-all by the PBA yet refused to sign a contract with Burger King, the team that drafted him. Aguilar had played for Powerade and its coach Yeng Guiao who once mentored the 6’11” player’s father, Peter, when he was playing for Swift’s in the PABL.

Aguilar left the Ateneo Blue Eagles after two years to play for Western Kentucky in the US NCAA. There was hope that he could be the first pure Filipino to play in the NBA but injuries kept him from getting valuable playing time and as a result, with not many opportunities, he returned to the Philippines and to join Powerade in particular.

He has so much potential and possesses hops uncommon to local big men. But his skills and mental acumen for the game have not yet caught up. While in Tianjin, Guiao oft chastised him after losing focus on the floor: “You should have stayed with Ateneo. You would have learned more from Norman Black.”

Criticism isn’t new to Aguilar, but he found himself increasingly missing playing with his contemporaries rather than grizzled veterans. He sought to escape playing for Burger King and instead suit up for Gilas. It not only infuriated Burger King and PBA executives.

It isn’t uncommon for PBA draftees not to be signed up, but for a Number One Overall Pick to spurn a club was unheard of and downright unthinkable. The fact that Aguilar wanted to join Gilas gave rise to conspiracy theories with regards to the SBP where some believed that Executive Director Noli Eala was using the NSA and the national team to get back at them for his dismissal as league commissioner.

It was far from the truth but it wouldn’t be the first time the accusation was hurled against Eala.

In the meantime, Giles returned after an unsuccessful bid with Orlando. The deal with the American was, he could play for an NBA team provided that he play in the requisite tournaments for Gilas.

Whether sound or not, it has never happened before that a candidate for naturalization, would commit to three years to the Philippine National Team. In the PBA, imports sign up anywhere from weeks to at most four months. So everyone was treading uncommon ground.

But Giles loved Manila. Maybe even too much because after a while he became a nocturnal creature and that put him on a collision course with Toroman who was a stern disciplinarian. Giles resented the constant scolding by the Serb who took affront at the American’s irresponsibility.

With the college basketball season winding down, Toroman verbally wished for the addition of three amateur standouts in Ateneo’s Rabeh Al-Hussaini, UE’s Paul Lee, and the University of Cebu’s Junmar Fajardo. Al-Hussaini was the only one who signed up while Lee, through UE Coach Lawrence Chongson, declined in order to concentrate on the Red Warriors’ PBL club, Cobra Energy Drink. Fajardo was a little more complex. His Cebuano handlers said that they wanted him to finish his schooling yet others wondered if their association with the disenfranchised BAP was the cause of the player’s unavailability for the SBP-sponsored national squad.

As much as Gilas was a three-year project, most, if not all the players’ contracts were not drawn up for the long haul. The national team’s composition was an ongoing process where players would be added while some removed either to stay in the national pool or to make way for other players. In spite of that knowledge, the players got along famously.

In the case of Ababou, the re-entry of the college players threw the rotation and system into chaos.

Gilas co-captain Mark Barroca returned earlier than expected after he left his FEU team following game fixing allegations by school officials. Gilas officials, led by Team Manager Butch Antonio, picked up a disconsolate Barroca on a day when the rains were falling and the last commissioner of the Metropolitan Basketball Association summed up the team’s recent troubles: “Gilas had become a refuge for the controversial and the unwanted.”

A dark cloud hung over Gilas and the rain that followed would turn into a deluge.

Posted by Rick Olivares

Smart Gilas Pilipinas - Australian Tour Results:

March 15 - Smart Gilas def. Australian U19 NT, 78-67

March 16 - Smart Gilas def. AIS, 79-73

March 17 - Smart Gilas ties AIS, 73-73

March 18 - Smart Gilas def. Canberra Gunners, 101-84

March 19 - Smart Gilas def. NSWIS, 82-63

March 21 - Smart Gilas def. Sydney City Comets, 93-81

The opposition may not be that strong, but still a fruitful, productive trip down under for smart gilas.

next stop: serbia

i hope smart gilas battle against stronger teams this time. Smile
(03-22-2010, 03:05 PM)patay-butiki Wrote: [ -> ]next stop: serbia

What teams will they face? Why not come to Lithuania? :p
(03-22-2010, 03:09 PM)Vilius Wrote: [ -> ]What teams will they face? Why not come to Lithuania? :p

the official sked hasn't been released yet. serbia is the choice basically because of smart gilas' serbian coach rajko toroman. but i believe lithuania can also be a destination in the future. altho countries with sizable filipino communities (middle east, u.s.a., maybe even italy or the u.k.) should be the preferred choices.

for reference, below are the results of smart gilas' first serbian trip (2009):

March 29 - Smart Gilas def. by Vujic Metalac Valjevo, 61-92

March 31 - Smart Gilas def. by BC Beograd OKK, 87-90

April 02 - Smart Gilas def. BC Mega, +10 pts

April 03 - Smart Gilas def. KK Vizura, 112-76

- Smart Gilas def. by BC Torlak

- Smart Gilas def. by BC Zeleznicar
Metalac Valjevo beats smart gilas 86-76. Last year the score was 92-61. So i guess you can argue that smart gilas has improved a lot. Smile

article below is from businessmirror.com.ph

Quote:Gilas yields to heftier Serbians

Sports

Written by Joel Orellana / Reporter

THURSDAY, 01 APRIL 2010 19:39

SMART Gilas dropped its opening assignment in its six-game exhibition series against club teams in Belgrade.

The young Philippine team lost to the bigger and heftier players of Metalac Valjevo, 86-76, on Tuesday at the Hala Sportoba, Valjevo in Belgrade.

“Ang lalaki talaga nila at malakas pa ang kanilang three-point shooting,” said Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Noli Eala. “It’s a taller and heftier Metalac team we played right now.”

The 10-point margin is a bit closer, which could be considered an improvement for Smart Gilas, which lost to the same team last year, 61-92. Metalac Valjevo is a Division 1 professional team in Serbia.

“We had a great fourth quarter. It was a great start for the team and I hope we’ll do better tomorrow,” said Eala.

Smart Gilas trailed early in the first quarter, 14-22, and 64-48 entering the fourth quarter.

The Nationals, who are playing without a foreign reinforcement, gave the host team a tough time in the final period where they outscored the Serbians, 28-22.

“Their size and experience spelled the difference,” said skipper Chris Tiu via Twitter. “They were very disciplined and executed well.”

Tiu added that Metalac Valjevo boasts a pair of seven-foot centers and has an average height of six feet and seven inches. The Philippine squad’s tallest player is six-foot-11 Greg Slaughter.

Marcio Lassiter poured all of his 17 points in the second half to lead the squad coached by Rajko Toroman, a native of Serbia.

The team will play five more games in Belgrade before flying to Vancouver, Canada, for a pair of exhibition games.

Smart Gilas is using this tournament in preparation for the International Basketball Federation (Fiba)-Asia Champions Cup in Doha, Qatar, in May and the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, in November.

Meanwhile, Smart Gilas team manager Frankie Lim said the team is close to sealing a deal with Dwayne Jones after speaking to the player’s agent Dave Gasman. The team is expecting to sign a foreign player who could be naturalized in time for the qualifying events for the 2012 London Olympics.

“We spoke to his agent last Tuesday and looks like he’ll accept it,” said Lim. “I’m just waiting for them to return the contract to me and that would be in a couple of days.”

The 26-year-old Jones, who played with Boston Celtics, Charlotte Bobcats and Cleveland Cavaliers in the National Basketball Association (NBA), just finished his commitment with the Austin Toros in the NBA Developmental League.

The six-foot-11 Jones, a standout of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I school Saint Joseph University, is expected to play his first game with Smart Gilas in the Fiba-Asia Champions Cup this May.

Jones is expected to play for the team from May to November this year and from May to August next year, in time for the 2011 Fiba-Asia Championship, the qualifier for the 2011 London Olympics.
Will they face Red Star? Heard rumours.
(03-31-2010, 09:44 PM)rikhardur Wrote: [ -> ]Will they face Red Star? Heard rumours.

not sure bro.

anyways, here is an update of smart gilas' serbian tour (i think they're doing very good):

march 30 - smart gilas def. by Metalac Valjevo, 76-86.

march 31 - smart gilas def. Superfund, 91-84.

april 1 - smart gilas def. by OKK Beograd, 79-80.

from jim saret's facebook account:

Quote:RP Smart Gilas suffers a heartbreaking 1-point loss to OKK Belgrade Basketball Team, 79-80. Trailing most of the way, Gilas fought back against the bigger serbs until Dylan Ababou drilled a crucial 3-point shot to tie the game at 79-all with 3 seconds left. Despite a really clean defense, the serbian ref calls a foul and awards 2 freethrows to the serbian team with no time left. Despite the 1-pt loss, RP Gilas gave a good fight and didn't back down against the bigger and taller Serbian Team. GO GILAS!

[Image: 24012_1399151702990_1358190027_1083570_5355540_n.jpg]

japeth aguilar throws one down against OKK Beograd. the serbs looked a lot taller and heftier than the smart gilas boys.
smart gilas playing with Serb basketball elite...

april 3 - smart gilas def. by KK Hemofarm, 67-98.

april 5 - smart gilas v. KK Partizan

really tough competition. the losing margin against hemofarm should however be put in the asian basketball context. hemofarm and partizan ball clubs arguably are much better than asian teams. thus, smart gilas is getting much needed experience at a high level. Smile
excuse my ignorance. what is smart gilas? phillipino champs?
(04-06-2010, 12:09 PM)suricata Wrote: [ -> ]excuse my ignorance. what is smart gilas? phillipino champs?

No, it's in fact a "prototype" of the future national team. For some it's the national team already.
(04-06-2010, 09:23 PM)rikhardur Wrote: [ -> ]No, it's in fact a "prototype" of the future national team. For some it's the national team already.

aha, thanks. i've been hearing for a long time that phillipino bball will get stronger and return to major tournaments, but if the prototype NT loses to hemofarm by 30, they probably have a long long way to go
(04-07-2010, 01:14 AM)suricata Wrote: [ -> ]aha, thanks. i've been hearing for a long time that phillipino bball will get stronger and return to major tournaments, but if the prototype NT loses to hemofarm by 30, they probably have a long long way to go

hi suricata. smart gilas is in fact the philippine national team. yep, the team lost big time against hemofarm. but the goal is to be champs in asia in order to qualify for the london olympics. a tall task considering smart gilas has to pass through china. but hemofarm and partizan are elite serbian teams that should be better than asian national teams.

yes smart gilas is a long long way to go to be competitive in the european level. but in the asian level, i think it is almost there. Smile
final result of smart gilas' 2010 serbian tour (1-5):

march 30 - smart gilas def. by Metalac Valjevo, 76-86.

march 31 - smart gilas def. Superfund, 91-84.

april 1 - smart gilas def. by OKK Beograd, 79-80.

april 3 - smart gilas def. by KK Hemofarm, 67-98.

april 5 - smart gilas def. by KK Partizan, 71-87.

april 6 - smart gilas def. by Mega Vizura, 70-75.

from the looks of it, smart gilas seems to be competitive against serbian div. I teams outside of powerhouses KK Hemofarm and KK Partizan.
there are other competitive teams in asia too. lebanon, syria, iran...
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