The Philippines as a basketball-loving nation surely is looking forward to the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup as the country co-hosts the 19th edition of the quadrennial tournament together with Japan and Indonesia.
Gilas Pilipinas, the country’s national basketball team, was given an automatic qualification to the FIBA World Cup as one of the co-hosts. However, in recent memory, the Gilas Pilipinas were able to qualify for the 2014 and 2019 editions of the tournament even without the automatic qualification bonus. The national team finished those editions of the tournament at 32nd and 21st places, respectively, miles shy from claiming a second-round qualification ticket in the tournament.
For the third straight appearance in this international tournament, the Gilas Pilipinas hopes a change of tide in the results this time. Perhaps, playing for and in front of thousands of your countrymen is a huge confidence booster for the team and their bid for redemption. However, the success of the team is not only dependent on what we can see inside the court, it is way beyond those game-winning shots, crucial three-pointers, and fancy dunks and lay-ups. Winning in this level of competition requires a balance between the players and the management’s part. Even if you have twelve Jordan Clarkson-like players on the team roster, a team still would not succeed if it is the system that is broken in the first place.
It can be remembered that last 2022, the men’s national basketball team lost its dominance in the Southeast Asian Games, as the Indonesians ended the 33-year reign of the Philippines in Southeast Asia (SEA) men’s basketball. Many Filipinos were disappointed and also wondered what happened to the long-time kings of the SEA men’s basketball.
Several reasons are at fault for the numerous mishaps that happened to the national team. One is the dissension between former Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP), and the team’s current head coach Chot Reyes. It was when SBP president Al Panlilio said in a statement that the move of Tab Baldwin to give up the coaching position left the team in a directionless manner which led to Chot Reyes suiting up for the vacant position. In line with this, consistency in the system should be realized for the basketball program in the country to reap its fruits in the coming years.
With the Gilas Pilipinas right now in the guidance of Chot Reyes, who once led the Gilas Pilipinas to a run in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, the Philippines hosting the tournament, inconsistent basketball system, and the team’s ranking in FIBA on the 40th place, there is still no a clear vision of what would the results in the upcoming FIBA World Cup would be but one thing is for sure, the players will play their hearts out to make a good run in the tournament yet the system should also be brought to a higher competency level to make the national basketball program successful in the long run.