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Let’s not give up on Gilas

Gilas Pilipinas can beat any team when playing at its best.

PHNOM PENH, CAMBODIA — Gilas Pilipinas has been given a dose of reality in the Southeast Asian Games by Cambodia and its wave of naturalized players who dealt us an embarrassing defeat.

As expected, the loss did not sit well with basketball-crazy Filipinos.

“What a disgraceful game for Gilas,” basketball benefactor Manuel V. Pangilinan wrote on Twitter.

For many years, Filipinos have lorded over the Southeast Asian Games. We have lost only twice, the last was last year in Vietnam where Indonesia reigned supreme.

We’re no longer unbeatable as the game’s landscape is different now.

Countries are beginning to take advantage of fielding naturalized players to reinforce their squads. The Games allow players to compete as long as they can present their passports.

A near three-decade dominance came to an end last year when it lost the crown to Indonesia.

Another painful defeat was administered by the host country a few days ago using former American players.

Gilas is still on the hunt, however.

Our cagers are expected to get past Singapore sending them to the crossover semifinals, possibly against Indonesia in a rematch of last year’s gold medal game.

Gilas Pilipinas can beat any team when playing at its best.

People would say that we should send a developmental team here instead, just like in the past.

But we cannot think of going backward knowing that countries had now caught up with us.

The war is far from over.

All Gilas need is to play their best brand of basketball.

They need to take it one step at a time, get their minds away from any distractions and start thinking about winning.

A gold medal is still within reach.

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