FIBA Asia 2015 Men’s Basketball Finals
Second Time Could Have Been A Charm (Except)
For the second straight FIBA Asia Basketball Cup, the Philippine men's team is back in the finals to contest the elusive gold medal they last won way back in 1986, years before the current players in the tournament were ever born.
Twice the Bridesmaid
At the last FIBA Asia Cup (2013), the Philippine team, more popularly known as Gilas Pilipinas, fell short and came in second to three time Asia Cup Champs Iran. The Philippines is no spring chicken themselves as they have won the Asian championships five times before.
This year, 2015, Gilas Pilipinas beat the Iranian team when they met on the second round.
And the Philippine team ended up having to contend with the host country (China) for the gold -- the same country who the Philippines vigorously fought with to host the 2019 FIBA World Cup. And yes, Yao Ming won over Manny Pacquiao over that duel.
FIBA Asia Cup 2015 Finals
But the fight for the gold in the 2015 FIBA Asia Cup was nothing like what happened in 2013.
With the golden ticket for the lone Asian team to qualify automatically to the 2016 Rio Olympics on the line, China -- the host country pulled all the stops (and all the shenanigans) to ensure that they would win. Not even sure why FIBA officials have turned a blind eye all this time.
And how China pulled it off are still fresh in the minds of Filipinos all over the world. And anyone who knows a thing or two about the Philippines know that they are home to a people who are among the most passionate basketball fans in the world.
In fact almost all the seeded teams who the Chinese team have faced in this Asia Cup have a complaint against their hosts and mostly it is about how most of the calls of the referees seem to favor China. And far too many of them were too blatant to ignore or to be not suspect.
And if FIBA ever puts up a video* of the full finals game in their website or their youtube channel like they did with the full finals game between Iran and Gilas in 2013, then everyone can see for themselves and they can relive the horror that have befell the Philippine team and any self respecting lover of the sport, particularly in the one game that really matters.
*Update: October 12, 2015 FIBA just uploaded the full game, check below.
The Philippine men's basketball team have not been back to the Olympics since they last participated in 1972. Incidentally that was the last Olympics before a professional basketball league was instituted in the Philippines. Previous to 1972, the Philippines have participated six times, and they still hold the distinction of attaining the highest place finish of any Asian nation, having finished 5th in the Berlin Olympics of 1936, having only lost once to the US Team.
2013 FIBA Asia Cup Final Full Game (Philippines vs Iran)
2015 FIBA Asia Cup Finals Iran 85 - Philippines 71
Something Was Cooking
"Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas" Basketball Federation of the Philippines president Manny V. Pangilinan said that long before the finals game, some "things" were definitely cooking.
1. The Chinese team stayed in a different hotel, while all the other teams were all housed in the same hotel.
2. For two games before the finals, the Philippines were scheduled to play last.
3. On their semi-final game (day before the finals) their game was delayed even more giving the winner (Gilas) a shorter time to rest and recuperate.
4. On the day of the finals, the bus that would bring the Gilas team to the venue was delayed, making the coaches and the players to worry and have less time to warm up.
5. And to make matter worse, at the most inappropriate and unsportsmanlike time, the organizers had to fix the net of the Philippine basket, giving Gilas even less time to practice.
6. The final straw was that they even denied entry to some of the Gilas assistant coaches because of problems with their tickets.
7. And the cherry on top was that many of the calls of the referees were momentum breakers for Gilas and were often miscalls that they have a big impact on how the game was played.
The referees for that fateful finals game were: Arsen Andryushkin of Kazakhstan, Marwan Egho of Lebanon and Toru Katayose of Japan.
There were also concerns with the behavior or the misbehavior of the Chinese fans and more importantly some of the Chinese media who were court side.
And as of this writing, none of these concerns have been addressed by FIBA.
Anomalies over at FIFA have already been uncovered and we just hope that FIBA wouldn't be next up.
Top Five FIBA Asia Medal Table
- FIBA Asia 2013 Men’s Basketball Finals
The Asian Zone qualifying games for the 2014 Spain FIBA World Games (the World Cup of Basketball) is held at Manila, the Philippines in 2013.
2015 FIBA Asia Cup Semi Final Full Game (China vs Iran)
Update: Video uploaded October 12, 2015