PH basketball legends share advice on how Gilas can regain Asian supremacy

Levi Joshua Verora Jr.

Posted at Oct 02 2023 03:53 PM

Gilas Pilipinas with Tim Cone. POC-PSC Media pool
Gilas Pilipinas with Tim Cone. POC-PSC Media pool

MANILA -- Filipino basketball players need to expose themselves more to FIBA basketball in order for the country to regain its status as contenders in Asia.

This, according to 1972 Munich Olympian Rosalio "Yoyong" Martirez, who hinted that the Philippines is influenced too much by the United States and the NBA.

"Para sa akin, kailangan, pag naglaro tayo, 'yung FIBA rules, 'yung rules ng European, kailangan, mag-practice na rin tayo ng (may) FIBA rules," Martirez said, adding that the PBA's rules is loosely based on the NBA.

Martirez was present alongside other Pinoy greats Jimmy Mariano, Edgardo Roque, and Atty. Alexander Padilla, who represented his late father Ambrosio, at the "When We Were Champions" book signing event Sunday at Quezon City.

The book authored by former journalist and editor Noel Albano commemorates the legacies of the Philippines from the 1930s to 1970s, when the nation was undisputed in the Asian region and made the Olympic basketball tournament several times.

"Pagdating sa FIBA, konti lang, tatawagan ka ng foul. Mag aral-aral na tayo, para pagdating ng panahon, tayo ulit ang may hawak ng Asia," Martirez added.

A member of the 1967 Asian Basketball Championship-winning squad, Martirez acknowledged that the rest of the continent has caught up to Gilas throughout the years, citing China, Iran, Lebanon, and South Korea, which have all been doing well in the last decade.

Martirez said the Gilas program will just have to buy into the process until it catapults itself to Asian contender status again, aside from familiarizing with the international brand of play more from a young age.

"Sa ngayon, nahihirapan man tayo, wala tayong magagawa. Magsikap lang hangga't masabing hawak natin ang tournament ng Asia ulit," he said.

"Nakalipas na 'yan. Kapag natalo, mag-aral tayo bakit natalo. 'Pag nanalo, bakit tayo nanalo? Wala namang katapusan ang pag aaral."

Mariano, meanwhile, said the mindset of doing it all for the country should be reinstilled to athletes, more than treating basketball as just livelihood.

"Iba na ang sistema ng training ngayon. Ang tingin nila sa paglalaro, they are more attached sa kinikita nila," the 1972 Munich Olympics Philippine flag bearer said.

The now 82-year-old power forward also mentioned that factors beyond the basketball court also affect the dreams of Filipino ballers who wish to become ready for the highest level of the sport.

"Maski araw-arawin mo naman ang laro, (the resources), mahirap eh, kapag mahirap ang buhay sa atin. Wala tayong magagawa," he said.

"Nagbabago ang mga generations. Maraming naidadagdag, especially sa pag-develop ng players. Number one, nagwe-weight training. 'Yung mga player ngayon, kailangan kumpleto sa pagkain."

For Albano, given the men's national team's recent struggles internationally, the status quo is an ideal time for self-examination.

"We stuck to our old ways. We did not change our basic style of playing. Saksak at saksak, walang pasahan, walang team work," he stated in his speech.

"Napag-iwanan na ang Pilipinas basketball. Maybe there is some good to that. Probably this is the best time to examine what we have before and what we have now, what changes have occured in the last 60 years that made us lose our edge."


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