The initial goal of this Philippines Smart Gilas team was to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics, but they haven’t managed to do so. Nevertheless the success of playing on the World Cup is maybe even bigger than the Olympics. It can be surely said that the Smart Gilas team is the most successful professional sports team in the history of the Philippines. It is also interesting that there is a whole story behind the nickname Smart Gilas Pilipinas.
What Does Gilas Mean?
The name Smart Gilas Pilipinas is consisted of the word Smart which is the name of the corporate sponsor of the team, the national telecommunications company and the Tagalog adjective Gilas which could be translated to pride or energy. This reflects the mentality of the Philippine people and the energy that they put towards the development of the basketball culture in the state.
It is known that this region is not filled with freakish athletes and tall centers, but this is an example that when there is a will to do something it is very plausible that it will happen.
The First Gilas Pilipinas Team
The initial idea of the Smart Gilas team was to qualify for the 2012 London Olympics by winning the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship and secure the sole spot reserved for national teams that come from this continent. The first Smart Gilas team was formed back in 2009, which was two years before the Asian Championship and three years before the Olympics. The initial 12 man squad was consisted of amateur players.
Later on there were couple of PBA League additions of professional players and there were numerous players on the list for naturalization. Some of the most notable names that were on the list for naturalization, but got signed by NBA teams instead includes: Greg Stiemsma, Dwayne Jones, CJ Giles, Courtney Sims and Brian Butch.
The player that the team has selected after an unsuccessful stint with Milan Vucicevic was Marcus Douthit, who has previously been training with the Los Angeles Lakers. He contributed greatly to the squad and was their best player on the last Asian Games where the team won the silver medal and qualified for the World Cup, but Douthit couldn’t do much in 2011 when the Smart Gilas didn’t manage to qualify for the London Olympics.
Smart Gilas Future
The recent addition of NBA role player Andray Blatche means a lot to the Smart Gilas, but it will be interesting to see how motivated will he be to help out the Philippines team in the future and will there be even bigger names on their list, that can’t make the cut for the USA National Basketball team. The qualification for the World Cup may be only the first step for this generation.