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Gilas Pilipinas shows the world what ‘puso’ means

Puso, hopefully, will be central traits in the future iterations of the Gilas Pilipinas team, which will look to build on what these 12 men have accomplished in the face of overwhelming odds. When the FIBA World Cup rolls around again in five years, stalwarts like Alapag, Pingris and Gary David will be gone, and in their place will perhaps be UAAP standouts like Kiefer Ravena, Jason Perkins and Arvin Tolentino.

This is not the climax of Gilas’ efforts, but rather a new plateau from which the national basketball program will build on. It had been 36 years since the Philippines competed on this stage, but we’ll be back soon enough.

If this Gilas team has taught us anything, it’s that we ourselves often underestimate what we are capable of. Told we are too small to play basketball, Gilas responds by taking the best teams in the world to the breaking point, encapsulating the underdog struggle that is the Filipino existence.

Even the outspoken minority of Filipino sports fans that feel the body structure and height of the typical Filipino is more suited for football has to admire the guts that this team has exhibited.

"At the start we were foolish enough to dream that we can compete with these teams so we’ll just be foolish all the way," said Reyes. (RELATED: Chot Reyes on Argentina loss: ‘This one really hurt’)

We say puso because when you're outnumbered and outgunned, sometimes wanting it more than your adversary is enough to come out on top. If there's one attribute this team isn't lacking in, it's desire.

Whether Gilas Pilipinas advances to the round of 16 depends on them defeating both Puerto Rico and the surprisingly tough Senegal on Wednesday and Thursday and hoping for a fortuitous set of circumstances that gives them a higher point difference and puts them in the top 4 teams in Group B.

What can be assured is that what this group of proud men has shown about puso will not be soon forgotten. - Rappler.com

 

Ryan Songalia is the sports editor of Rappler, a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and a contributor to The Ring magazine. He can be reached at ryan.songalia@rappler.com. Follow him on Twitter: @RyanSongalia.