‘Heartwork’ is new Team Gilas battlecry

By Joaquin Henson

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The Gilas Pilipinas | PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines - SBP chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan got the Gilas motor running with an inspirational talk focused on winning the SEABA title before the homecrowd as coach Chot Reyes coined a new battlecry “Heartwork” in the dugout before the Philippines took to the court to dispose of Indonesia, 97-64, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum the other night.

Pangilinan was accompanied by SBP president Al Panlilio who also reminded the players to give it their all for flag and country. Reyes challenged the players to make history, pointing out the rarity of capturing an international title on home soil. In bold letters on the whiteboard in the lockerroom was “Heartwork,” a play on words combining the importance of hard work and Gilas’ trademark “puso.”

“Hard work beats talent when talent fails to work hard,” said Reyes, quoting NBA star Kevin Durant. “We want to be the hardest working team out there. We want to show we’re at our best when we work as a team. This is for our country, we’re playing for what’s on our chest, not what’s on our back. All of us have overcome some kind of adversity, all of us came from difficult circumstances. Resiliency is what makes us strong, the ability to bounce back, to survive. When we’re involved in a bad play, we come back, go to the next play and move forward.”

Reyes said on a personal note, the day was significant because it was on May 18, 1993, when he won his first PBA championship with Coney Island in the All-Filipino Cup. “It’s been almost 25 years,” he said. “I’ve learned a lot since then. Now, it’s time to begin another journey.” He invited former Gilas player Ranidel de Ocampo to the lockerroom as another source of inspiration.

The players responded to the call to arms with conviction. Indonesia trailed by 20 at the end of the first period and was never a threat. Gilas dominated the boards, 53-25, and held Indonesia to its lowest total in rebounds in six games. Indonesia was also limited to its tournament lows in three-point attempts and blocked shots. Gilas shot 49 percent from the floor compared to Indonesia’s 38. 

The Philippines’ average winning margin in sweeping the tournament with a 6-0 record was 58.7 points. Depth was a key factor as Reyes generated 62.5 points a game from the Gilas bench. Five players averaged in double figure points – Andray Blatche (14), Calvin Abueva (13.8), Matt Wright (12), Troy Rosario (10.3) and Allein Maliksi (10). The tournament’s 10 most efficient players, in terms of plus-minus, were all from Gilas with Wright on top of the ladder (35), followed by Maliksi, Blatche, R. R. Pogoy, Abueva, Rosario, JuneMar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo and Jayson Castro.

Jio Jalalon finished No. 2 in assists (5.2) and steals (2) while Japeth Aguilar was third in blocked shots (1.8). Rosario led the tournament in two-point field goal accuracy (75 percent) and Wright in three-point field goal marksmanship (54.5). Blatche was second in total field goal percentage (58.7).

Panlilio said the victory is only the beginning of the long, hard road to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. He said the challenge ahead is to work with the PBA and the SBP in finding a way to make the Gilas players available for the Asian/Pacific qualifiers starting in November. The qualifiers will involve the 16 countries playing in the FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon in August. There will be six home-and-away windows in the qualifiers to determine the seven countries advancing to the World Cup. The seven countries will exclude China which has an automatic ticket as the host nation.

The Philippines is bracketed in Group B in the first round of the qualifiers with Japan, Chinese-Taipei and Australia. Gilas will play Japan on the road on Nov. 24, Chinese-Taipei at home on Nov. 27, Australia on the road on Feb. 22, Japan at home on Feb. 25, Chinese-Taipei on the road on June 29 and Australia at home on July 2. The top three placers of Group B will join the top three finishers of Group D under Group F in the second round of three more home-and-away windows. Group D is made up of Iraq, Qatar, Kazakhstan and Iran. After the second round, the top three of Group F move on to the World Cup.

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