Philippine Basketball Team, One of the First Participants in the Olympics
With our national team Smart Gilas Pilipinas’ triumph at the recent FIBA Asia Championships, where they finished second place, we are now heading to FIBA World Championships next year. It is the qualifying tournament for the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio de Janeiro Brazil.
We had a hard time battling with Iran in the FIBA Asia Championships finals. While our determination and skills were very evident, our lack of height were used by Iran to their advantage as Hamed Haddadi forced his way to the basket on every ball possession. How much more difficult will it be when we enter the World stage and go against the giants from different European teams like Russia, France, Lithuania, and Spain? Moreover, the North American continent's powerhouse basketball team and always the crowd's favorite in the tournament, team USA, is composed of NBA's star players. It is a dreadful long shot before we can reach the Olympics… AGAIN.
Again? Does that mean we’ve already been in the Olympics before?
The Philippine basketball team is one of the first nations to compete in the first ever Olympic basketball tournament at the 1936 Berlin Olympic Games and the national team went on to represent the country six times in the postwar era.
In 1936, the Philippine squad, coached by former Philippine national football team head coach Dionisio Calvo and captained by future Senator Ambrosio Padilla (both were the founding fathers of the Asian Basketball Confederation, now known as FIBA Asia), traveled and endured three weeks onboard in a ship to Paris, France and another week on a train to Berlin, Germany. The Islanders, as they were known back then, finished fifth in the table and failed to capture a medal despite dropping only one of its assignments to the United States. Anyway, the fifth place finished was the best finished ever by an Asian team in the Olympic basketball history.
Due to the Second World War, the Olympic Games did not take place until 1948 at London, England. The Philippine national team was once again coached by the future FIBA Hall of Famer Dionisio Calvo and finished 12th in the competition. This national team made history by becoming the first basketball team ever to score 100 points or more in a single game in the Olympics after beating Iraq, 102-30 in the opening rounds.
So that says a lot about the basketball genes that’s running through our veins. We may not be gifted with a height that will give us the basketball supremacy, our will to win and drive to excel in this sport keeps us going!
If the details above are not yet enough to make you feel proud of our basketball team, here’s another “First” from our very own national team.
The first time Basketball was considered an olympic sport was in 1936 Berlin Olympics. Nazi Germany was home to the first ever series of olympic basketball games. The picture in this article was taken during the Philippines-Mexico game. It was the first game in olympic history to be decided by one basket.