EDITOR’S NOTE: This piece was written by a good friend of the blog, Karlo Lovenia. While he also covers collegiate and professional basketball, his expertise is with the youngsters of the sport. Read more of Karlo’s work on his blog.
More than ever, Gilas needs to #TrustTheProcess
Written by Karlo Lovenia
Last year, SLAM Philippines released a local cover of SLAM 200 featuring Gilas Pilipinas, just in time for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. At the bottom of Boss MVP and five Gilas players were the words, “UNAFRAID” and “#TrustTheProcess.” That’s why for the rest of the tournament, the main hashtags used by writers for Gilas were #TrustTheProcess and #Tiwala.
Reactions to the cover were mixed. There were those who were just happy to see Gilas on a SLAM Magazine cover. However, some fans weren’t big fans of the use of the #TrustTheProcess. They thought this was unoriginal, since the hashtag was actually popularized by a certain team in the NBA. Other than it being so familiar already, the very concept of trusting the process is seen as something that is so cliché already. You can’t blame some editors telling their writers to stop using this concept so much because, quite frankly, it’s getting tiring to read about it.
You’re probably staring at the title of this piece and saying, “Oh, looks like this dude didn’t listen to his editor!” Maybe that is the case. But at this point, more than ever, we need to #TrustTheProcess.
When that hashtag was used last year for the FIBA OQT, you could say that it was used in order to recognize the process that Gilas had to go through. Take note of the tense there. Past.
It all started when the team set out on their road to Spain last 2013, as the Philippines hosted the FIBA Asia Championship. Gilas did end up making it to Spain, even winning a game in the World Cup. But the process wasn’t done just yet. There was one more event which Gilas was eyeing, and that was the Olympics. In order to get there, they had to win the FIBA Asia Championships the next year. Sadly, after various issues regarding eligibility of players and a spotty Finals game, Gilas ended up settling for 2nd for the second straight FIBA tournament.
Thankfully, they had another chance. That was for the team to win it all in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. With the country hosting a FIBA event once more, Gilas went all-in, fielding in arguably their best collection of talent yet. They needed it, as they were set to face teams with NBA-level talent in France and Canada. That was to be the culmination of the process that they’ve been going through ever since 2013. It started in MOA Arena, and the fruits of the entire process that the team went through would be seen there as well. Now we’ll get to see just how near or far the team really is against elite competition.
We nearly beat a French team that needed Tony Parker to go nova in the clutch to bury Gilas. However, we couldn’t offer much resistance against a sub-par (compared to the other teams at least) New Zealand team. So close, yet so far.
Immediately, fans had their sights on 2019, as the FIBA Asia Cup and the World Cup were set to be held that year. They thought, “Alright, let’s bring this crew one more time. We’ll get there in time.” That was far from the case. The process that we went through before was done. It was time to go through a new one, and it required seeing new faces as well.
That’s where we find ourselves now, as Gilas Pilipinas plays in the Jones Cup with a team that is more youth than polish at this point. We were witness to that youth in Gilas’ first game versus Canada, where the team committed 26 turnovers, Jio Jalalon accounting for 7 of those. It was frustrating, not just for Gilas, but for fans as well. The comments that we saw in social media afterward were brutal, to say the least.
Of course, there would be those who would wear their analyst cap and cite various reasons as to why the team lost that game. But there were those who instead of saying constructive and objective criticisms, offered insight that was, quite frankly, not needed.
“Alam niyo, kung nandiyan si Junemar pati si Japeth panalo yan eh. Pero ayos lang! Committed naman sila sa FIBA Asia diba!”
“Imagine niyo kung magkasama si Lassitter pati si Matthew Wright. Ang sarap!”
“Dapat nandiyan si idol Abueva yung makikipagpalitan ng mukha.”
It sucks not to have those names. Not only are they legitimate stars already in the country, but they’re also veterans in the international game. Don’t worry, even I myself am frustrated that we can’t see those names represent our country.
But just because we don’t have those players doesn’t mean that all is lost. Throwing out complaints like those is like getting so bummed out that a couple of friends couldn’t join your barkada to a road trip you’ve been planning for a while now because their parents didn’t allow them to go. Even though those buddies of yours aren’t with you, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have fun on that trip and pick up some things. Trust me, it can still be a fun experience despite the lack of manpower.
The same can be said for this iteration of Gilas. There’s a big chance that the team doesn’t win the Jones Cup. It’s a pretty big bummer. But you can trust me in saying that this young team will come out a better one by the end of this tournament. There will be instances where Gilas looks like a scrub of a team like what we saw versus Canada. But there will also be those times where the team looks like a beast just as they did against both Chinese Taipei teams.
That’s the reality of it. This is a young team that is still incredibly inconsistent. But the very fact that they can put up monster performances like that means that they have that in them. You just have to wait for them to figure it out so that they can show up like that more consistently.
Last year, a process ended. This year, Gilas finds itself facing the start of a new journey, this time towards Tokyo 2020. It’s painful right now with all of these disappointing results, but more than ever, we have to #TrustTheProcess. Have faith. #Tiwala.