Where did the Philippines’ “Gilas Pilipinas” nickname come from?

Smart Gilas

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.

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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.

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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.

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  • From what I know, Gilas is the name of the Philippine satellite owned by PLDT. I believe that’s where the name really came from.

  • totoo Lang

    You meant to say when there are foreigners willing to switch allegiance then anything is possible. First off, we have to recognized that we have imports, without any filipino bloods at all, that made this possible. Without them we won’t even survived our own backyard in south east asia anymore probably. My point is that Gilas is a stupid name because you say it translate into pride. Well where’s the pride there when those that bannered the team really had no connection to the Philippines other than an opportunity to play for us to better their careers. I mean when Douthit got injured, we lost to Iran. When Blatche got injured, we lost to France. Meaning when we lose our imports we don’t win by ourselves. Where’s the pride in that? We need players like Samboy, Loyzaga, etc, that play their hearts out and doesn’t matter if it’s a dunk or an ugly shot so long as it goes in for sure. Our players tend to play for pogi points trying to look pretty on the court. Make the shots first before making yourself look good ala Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. Same old shit since the beginning of modern basketball in the Philippines. No wonder we reached no new achievements since.

  • para kay sa totoo lang.

    Sa totoo lang, it seems you are not watching and following our games. you don’t go into comparing our team with Southeast asia. Sa totoo lang, even the last SEAG when we just put in our young players, tinambakan natin ang SEA counterparts natin. Maybe you’re referring to Asean basketball league? That’s a different animal. Our asean neighbors are using our players and coaches as imports. see? Sa totoo lang, when we won the semis game against s.korea in fiba asian champs, douthit didn’t play almost the entire game. so all filipino yun. and we won. so anong point? sa totoo lang, your points are non-sense. kung may papogi, andun sa PBA mga hindi napili ni Chot Reyes for Gilas. kaya yun, di pa rin magchampion sa pba. kangkong.

  • Anonymous

    Utak ang gamitin wag paporma.

  • easybasket

    Utak ang gamitin, wag gigil at porma.

  • Randompinoy

    To totoo lang, didn’t RP have naturalized players even during samboy’s time? Chip engelland, jeff Moore and another one.

  • Randompinoy

    Gilas is actually acronym for Gearing up Internet Literacy and Access for Students, a multi sectoral initiative where one of the sponsors is Smart communications.

  • To: totoo lang..wag kanalang manood ng laro ng Gilas Pilipinas para wala kanang masabi..utak talangka..pweeee naturingan ka ngang Filipino pero makapg comment ka..sa tingin Afghan, Pakistan o di kaya Iraqi ka.warfreak yata utak mo. Good LUCK GILAS w oR L we proud of you guys.

  • i translated gilas from tagalog to english and it means elegance. pretty nice.

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