Heart of the matter

Lito A. Tacujan - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — Perhaps, it’s doomed from the start. Gilas groped for form and ended up with bitter losses at the hands of superior rivals in the FIBA World Cup.

Like in its battlecry “Puso.” It was supposed to be Gilas’ symbol. It conveys all the traits the Nationals stand for. Courage. Guts. Spunk. It’s their seal. Their coat of arms. The image to die for.

And die they did in front of horrified fans as the Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy took the fight out of the Nationals with decisive runs in the fourth quarter.

It’s doomed in their bid for a breakthrough win when the local fans, loud and unrelenting, put Gilas under extreme pressure as the hometown crowd demanded the win after consecutive losses.

What Gilas had hoped for as a morale boost from the fans unwittingly took a reversal of roles as the foreign teams played an inspired ball before appreciative Filipino fans and scuttled the Filipinos.

Hopes were high for Gilas before the tournament as they completed an expensive training tour of Estonia, Lithuania and China and the arrival of Jordan Clarkson, the Utah Jazz Fil-Am ace.

They were the snarling underdog, seeking a berth in the second round but succumbed to the rugged European style of basketball of their first three tormentors and were reduced to a bout of keeping their pride intact against Asian rival China late last night.

“We’re doing this for flag and country,‘’ said  Gilas coach Chot Reyes, much maligned on social media.

The current FIBA WC has been giving us a high quality of basketball in three major venues particularly at the Smart Araneta Coliseum where in the midcourt could be found the huge Gilas “Puso” emblazoned sideways.

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