December 10 was a night to remember for this basketball-crazy nation of the Philippines, as both its men’s and women’s national teams struck gold in the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
It was a great scene according to Gilas Men head coach Tim Cone, who even regarded the other side’s run a much bigger accomplishment.
“I honestly think the bigger story is the women.
“We were kind of the heavy favorites to win this, so the fact that we did it is not big a story as the women stepping up and get their first gold. That was amazing,” said Cone.
The multi-titled bench tactician was right, though. The women’s team has knocked on the door of winning the Games title so many times, but has always fallen short.
Nonetheless, coach Patrick Aquino and his wards showed what they are capable of, as the action eventually rolled on in the SM Mall of Asia Arena.
“And from where they started in this tournament, nobody was paying attention to them at all,” Cone observed.
“They just started to beat one team after the other after the other, starting with the three-on-three.”
After they finally claimed the once-elusive gold for the country in women’s basketball, Cone knows that the team is destined for bigger things.
“What a great thing for the women and the country. I always think that sports empower women. I love to see women in sports,” says the husband of a marathoner himself.
“So I have always been a big believer in women in sports. The fact that they did this now, I believe this will turn the country’s view on women’s basketball and there’s just so much room to grow. I think we can be a force in Asia, not just in Southeast Asia.”