A Cinderella Story: After 24 Years, We Are Back

Smart Gilas Pilipinas in their huddle after their quarter final game against Chinese-Taipei Photo by FIBAAsia.com

After 24 years, we are back where we belong.

We are competing again in a high-level in the Asian region. With the win over Chinese-Taipei, team Philippines will advance to the semi-finals and they’re going up against the surprising team Jordan which we defeated in the second round. Jordan defeated the powerhouse Iran thus the early exit for the defending champions.

With Iran being eliminated for the slot in the London Olympics, Smart Gilas will have a bigger chance to advance in the final match. Although we beat Jordan in the second round, we must stay focused and sharp for us to get past them. They have the sense of urgency to win and with the additional emotions due to their loss against us, we have a very hard task in front of us.

But with coach Rajko, coach Chot and coach Ryan handling our team, there’s no doubt that there will not be a lack of motivation and focus with our boys. They will make sure that the guys won’t forget what they are playing for.

Behind Marcus Douthit’s double-double performance, 37 points, and 10 rebounds, we made a comeback victory (again). But he did not do it alone.

In the early parts of the game, we seem to be sloppy and out of rythm, and Chinese-Taipei with their hot shooting rallied in to the lead. But after the boys warmed up a little, it is a different story. They closed out the first half with 14-3 run to take the lead heading into halftime. In the 3rd quarter, it was Ranidel de Ocampo playing his heart out for our country, it was Jvee Casio’s timely shots kept us coming back, it was Marcio Lassiter’s pesky D that made the score close and eventually we took the lead.

Heading into the fourth quarter, that’s when Marcus stole the show.

Marcus Douthit dominated the paint with 38 points that produced a smile on his face in the latter part of the game. You can tell how happy coach Rajko was when Douthit dunked the ball and got an “and 1”. Coach Rajko pumped his fists and high-fived his players with a small smile on his face he applauded his team for their hard work on the floor. With Marcus capping his dominating game off with a 3 point shot at the left hand corner, the Smart Gilas players congratulated themselves for entering the semi-finals after 24 years.

This is a historical night for the Philippines and we’re still not done.

Keep believing Pilipinas. All together now.

United we stand.

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