It can be said that those who work in silence make quite a lot of noise in the end.
Being distant from all the distractions can be both refreshing and liberating, to the point that there’s only one thing in sight: winning.
The Gilas Pilipinas Women’s Team has been relatively insulated from all the drama that surrounded the Men’s Team and it had allowed them to be solely focused in their mission to go for a 3-peat in the Women’s 5×5 Basketball.
For a time, Gilas was in the hunt for the gold medal, racing to a 2-0 record after solid wins over Cambodia and Singapore. The win over the Cambodians was special as it was a 60-point beating against a bunch of naturalized players that set the tone for their 3-peat bid and gave them some confidence against a title contender in Indonesia.
Unfortunately, an 89-68 loss to the Indonesians relegated Gilas Pilipinas to a chance at a silver medal should they win their final game against Malaysia. The Philippines was actually in control for much of the first half, but Indonesia stamped their class in the last two quarters and came away with the victory.
Regardless of the result, Gilas should hold their heads high with what they have achieved in Phnom Penh.
Like the Men’s Team, the Gilas Pilipinas Women’s Team always had gold medal aspirations yet rather than hearing about who’s there and who’s not or any qualms about practice time (or lack thereof), the Philippines mostly seemed to be in the thick of preparations.
Granted, media coverage and the number of professional leagues tilted heavily onto the Men’s side, but Gilas Women’s had every reason to ask for whatever the Men’s would get given how they’ve been a steady ship in recent years.
That stability was a major factor in Gilas Pilipinas being able to medal in three of the last four editions of SEA Games Women’s 5×5 Basketball and clinching the 2016 SEABA Championship for Women. Head coach Patrick Aquino has been at the helm since 2015 and letting him instill his program has been vital to the Philippines’ success.
When you watch Gilas’ games, you can see that there’s rarely panic in them. Gilas Pilipinas understands that running the system will lead to good possessions, a bevy of points, and a win when the final buzzer sounds. It’s a matter of things that begin with the letter “p” as patience, pace, and passing will help lead to a crisp offense that can punish opposing teams. On defense, it’s pressure and pouncing on poor decisions, all of which could help ignite the offense.
With Aquino’s system, a steady stream of players from the NU Lady Bulldogs’ program, and the trust the players, coaches, and management have in one another, it’s even fair to say that Gilas has garnered accomplishments with less resources. There will be quarters that say that Men’s and Women’s basketball are quite different from one another, but it can also be said that the latter has laid the blueprint for the former.
During Aquino’s eight years as head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas Women’s Team, there have been nine coaches who stepped in as the head coach for the Gilas Pilipinas Men’s Team, with Chot Reyes having three tours of duty. The revolving door of coaches and the incompetence that marks Reyes’ tenure have taken its toll on the Men’s Team. The cadets setup that the Men’s Team had in the regimes of Rajko Toroman and Tab Baldwin proved to be effective and veering away from that blew up the team and with it any gains. Management trust? Well SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan’s tweet speaks for itself.
Much attention has been given to the Gilas Pilipinas Men’s Team, but the Gilas Pilipinas Women’s Team has been carrying the flag with pride and success. Both teams could possibly bring home medals in the 2023 SEA Games for both the 3×3 and 5×5 events, but the Men’s Team might as well take a page out of the Women’s Team if they want to get past doing the bare minimum.