September 26, 2023

From Aug. 25 until Sept. 18, all eyes will be on the Philippines because of the FIBA World Cup.
The Philippines is the main host of the event and although two other countries in Japan and Indonesia collaborated to sponsor the competition, it is in the Philippines where majority of the games, including the semi-finals and finals shall be played. This is a major accomplishment for it is a testimony that the country can host major sports event.
FIBA is a basketball competition of the best teams and brightest players in the universe that is held every four years.
The tournament is a culmination of a four-year elimination round where representatives from the different continents of the world are determined. Asia, Europe, America, Africa, and Oceana hold games among their member countries with only the last teams standing able to qualify for the world tournament. Hence, the world basketball championship really lives up to its name with only thirty two of the best teams that were sorted out in a grueling qualification tournament allowed to play. From there, only one will be crowned the champion.
This year’s version is as exciting as any. For Filipinos who yearn and crave for the best basketball there is, it is a wish come true.
Having players like Doncic of Slovenia, Gobert of France, Engles of Australia, Edwards of the U.S.A. and a slew of other certified superstars dunking, blocking shots, shooting fadeaway three pointers and making no look passes in our own backyard is no longer an impossible dream but a reality. They shall display their wares and talents, competing among themselves in a high-stake friendly tournament at the Philippine Sports Arena, Mall of Asia Arena, and the Araneta Coliseum.
What makes the world cup even more exciting is that the Philippines is represented by its home team – Gilas.
Gilas is made up of the best dribblers in the country like Junemar Fajardo, Scottie Thompson, Dwight Ramos, Japeth Aguilar, to name a few. With Jordan Clarkson, a bona fide NBA superstar in tow, the team may just make some noise in the tournament. As they say, the “ball is round” and it may just bounce the way of the home-team, what with the crowd behind it. Hence, unlike in past world tournaments participated by Gilas, which, parenthetically, al ended in forgettable stints, this version of the Gilas team is sure to compete.
The Philippine team is bracketed with the teams from Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy, all having their NBA players suiting up.
The Philippines, too, has its NBA player in Jordan Clarkson and if he is as good as advertised and is able to play smoothly alongside his team-mates, there is no reason why victory is not to be expected. Filipinos are, therefore, counting and praying that Gilas will defeat at least two of its bracket-mates and advance to the next round. Advancing to the next round guarantees the country a ticket to the forthcoming Olympics.
We do not harbor any hope that the Gilas team wins the world championship. That is the farthest from our minds and the longest of shots. Whether we like it or not, our team remains inferior to the others in the world. Our kind of basketball has not yet evolved to such a level that our height, talent and strength are at par with the best. To think otherwise is like asking for the moon and the stars. What we are asking for is that our players compete at the highest level and even if they should lose, they would do so with pride and honor.
As for us, we must watch, enjoy and appreciate this once-in-a-lifetime tournament and cheer for the teams that are here to entertain us. Let the world basketball fever be upon us.