Philippines on top of Asiad basketball after 6 decades

October 6, 2023, 10:29 pm Updated on October 7, 2023, 3:14 am

<p><em>(Courtesy of PSC)</em></p>

(Courtesy of PSC)

HANGZHOU, China – The Philippines is men's basketball gold medalist in the 19th Asian Games here, beating Jordan, 70-60, at Hangzhou Olympic Sports Centre Gymnasium here on Friday.

Justin Brownlee paced the Tim Cone-mentored Filipinos with 20 points, Ange Kouame added 14, Chris Newsome 13 and Scottie Thompson 11.

It was the country's first basketball gold since winning the first four editions (1951, 1954, 1958, 1962) and first finals appearance since losing to China in 1990 Beijing.

The cagers' last medal was a bronze in the 1998 Games in Bangkok, Thailand, where China and South Korea finished 1-2.

The 1962 squad swept its seven matches during the 1962 Jakarta Games, capped by a 101-67 win over Japan. It starred Olympian Kurt Bachmann, Alberto Reynoso, Narciso Bernardo, Engracio Arazas, Manny Jocson and Roehl Nadurata.

Bachmann's son, Philippine Sports Commission chair Richard, watched the game. He spent all his seven seasons in the Philippine Basketball Association with the Alaska team and won eight championships, all under Cone,

"We knew that we would have a hard chance of playing in the game, especially when we lost to them earlier in the tournament," the naturalized Brownlee said during the post-match interview.

"The Filipino heart, the Filipino pride…there is nothing like it. We displayed it in this tournament. We were down in some games, and we were up, and then we came back. The Filipino heart toughened us up a lot, especially in this gold medal game."

Brownlee officially became a Filipino by virtue of Republic Act 11937, signed by President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. on Jan. 12.

“As a citizen, I will try my best to make the Filipino people proud. I want to keep making you guys proud and to do whatever I can to help the national team,” the six-foot-five Brownlee said in an interview then.

Finishing 24th out of 32 in the FIBA World Cup which the Philippines co-hosted in August, the team called Gilas Pilipinas needed to rebound.

"A month after the World Cup, we knew that our national team really needed that win," Kouame, naturalized in May 2021, said. "Everybody came together and that was a great team effort."

Marcos congratulated the team via an X (formerly Twitter) post.

"I know every Filipino is proud to be called one today. Congratulations, Gilas Pilipinas, on this incredible feat! Your hard work continues to elevate Filipino athleticism and sportsmanship to the global arena," the President said.

Coach Tim Cone (PSC photo)

The Philippines now has four gold medals in the quadrennial tournament, the first three from World No. 2 pole vaulter Ernest John Obiena and jiu-jitsu fighters Margarita Ochoa and Annie Ramirez, on top of two silvers (wushu's Arnel Mandal and boxing's Eumir Marcial) and 12 bronze medals.

China picked up the basketball bronze after stopping Chinese Taipei, 101-73. (PNA)