April 25, 2024

Never forget: Gilas manager Alfrancis Chua’s brave words before Asian Games came to fruition

Never forget: Gilas manager Alfrancis Chua’s brave words before Asian Games came to fruition
Nic Earnshaw

A week before Gilas Pilipinas’ first scheduled game in the 19th Asian Games, a press conference was held, which revealed that the Philippine team’s lineup was yet to be finalized. Gilas coach Tim Cone and team manager Alfrancis Chua were scrambling to patch things up due to a fiasco involving a 60-man list that was initially submitted by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas. Gilas’ Asiad campaign was doomed to fail, or so we thought.

With Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Mo Tautuaa, and Jason Perkins barred from playing, things looked bleak and Gilas was offered an easy way out.

“Ang dami nagsabi mag-withdraw, 'yan pinaka-madali. That's the quickest way para hindi na sumakit ang ulo namin,” said Chua. “We talked to the four [Abueva, Perkins, Romeo, Tautuaa], talagang iyakan kasi kahit sandali lang na oras, talagang naging solid 'yung team.”

A solid team, that’s exactly what Gilas got despite the chaotic buildup to the quadrennial conclave. As soon as the replacements in Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino, Chris Ross, and Cjay Perez wholeheartedly filled in, Chua perhaps found another reason to believe in the group even more.

“Nandito kami, kami na ang gumawa, kami na ang lalaban, so kahit ganun siguro 'yung lineup, lalaban kami,” Chua said during the September presser.

Looking back at Chua’s bold claim, it’s now undeniable that he told zero lies. Gilas went to Hangzhou, China to give it their all. Filipino hoop fans witnessed inspiring team play, highlighted by special performances from Justin Brownlee, Scottie Thompson, Ange Kouame, June Mar Fajardo, Kevin Alas, and Chris Newsome. As a result, Gilas ended the Philippines’ 61-year gold medal drought in Asian Games men’s basketball.

(CF)