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SLIDESHOW: 10 things we’ll remember from Gilas’ epic showing in SEABA

Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2017 09:05 PM | Updated as of May 20 2017 01:47 AM

Before finally moving on from an incredible week of international basketball, ABS-CBN News lists down 10 takeaways from Gilas Pilipinas’ gold-medal run in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship. 

The camaraderie

These players have gone hard at each other fighting on opposite sides of the floor for as long as they have. But for 6 days, they had each other’s backs as teammates.

Whether it’s Japeth Aguilar connecting with Terrence Romeo on an alley-oop, or Jayson Castro running the break with Romeo and Calvin Abueva on the wings, or Abueva having fun being around guys who would normally be annoyed with his antics, the sense of unity was palpable and a joy to watch. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The coaching

For whatever reason, Chot Reyes and the men’s national team are meant to be together. He was the first coach entrusted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to bring respectability to its program in 2007, and he has delivered on that promise. 

He is an effective communicator and motivator, and knows how to manage egos and personalities. He’s no doubt one of the best coaching minds the country has ever produced, but his one defining characteristic is he’s a student of the game, constantly learning and adapting to better maximize the tools at his disposal.

The SEABA Championship is his first tournament since returning late last year. He should never be made to leave again. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The competition

The blowouts notwithstanding, there wasn’t any bitterness at all from the guests. Despite losing by an average margin of nearly 60 points, the visiting teams kept their chin up and saw this tournament from a “glass half full” perspective.

Myanmar’s coach called the 107-point loss a “learning experience,” while Thailand’s coach said the Philippines fielding its best team was “great” for the region. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The dominance

Some are turned off by the lopsided games but, in a country hungry for some success for its national teams, this display of utter superiority should be welcome.

The Azkals remain underachievers and the volleyball teams aren’t quite there yet. The baseball and softball teams, while solid, haven’t registered a blip on Filipinos’ sports consciousness.

Competitive balance adds drama and draws interest to a particular sport, true, but who doesn’t want the occasional sure win? Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The engagement

Vietnam’s head coach gave a shout-out to Gilas fans who were clowning his players with a fake countdown. He can’t blame them for doing their part as the 6th man.

As far as the attendance goes, the crowd turnout didn’t impress in the early going but, as the tournament progressed and the hype surrounding certain opponents built up, the fans turned up at the Big Dome. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The pride

It’s easy for some to belittle any basketball-related accomplishment on the Southeast Asian level, because the Philippines is always expected to win.

But regardless of the size of the competition, whether it’s on the world stage or in this little corner of Asia, no sight is more satisfying than seeing a winning athlete proudly drape the country’s flag around one’s body. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The sportsmanship

Gilas players conducted themselves with class throughout the tournament, which is important as hosts and for a team that’s the acknowledged powerhouse of the region.

Reyes told his players to respect the game and the opposition, and that advice should resonate with the younger generation of Filipinos players.

“I don't want any gloating, I don't want any external or unnecessary actions. I don't want any taunting,” he said. “I thought we did a really good job on that.” Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The showmanship

The fast breaks, the alley-oops, the ball movement and the acrobatics were the textbook definition of poetry in motion. Reyes preached playing the right way but, when the opportunity was there to add some spice to the proceedings, Gilas’ seasoned pros did what they do best — put on a show. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The talent

How far and away superior is the Philippines compared to its regional rivals? Man for man, this may not even be its best collection of players. There’s another 12 names out there than can realistically challenge Fajardo, Castro and co.

What’s the point of bringing this up? As much as people are talking about how the gap between Gilas and the rest of field is closing, no other team is going to take away the Southeast Asian crown from a full-strength Philippines side any time soon. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

The transition

While the broadcast crew covering the SEABA Championship interviewed former Gilas members Ranidel de Ocampo and Gabe Norwood during intermission, the likes of senior men’s team rookies Jio Jalalon, Allein Maliksi and Matthew Wright were leaving their mark on the court.

With De Ocampo and Norwood having retired from national team duties, many had wondered whether the next man up would be able to fill their shoes. The answer laid itself out this week — Gilas’ future is secure with the new recruits. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

(For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.)