The Philippines always had a rich basketball history marked by success in the regional and global tournaments from the SEA Games to the Asian Games, FIBA World Championship to the Olympics. However, the country's favorite sport has fallen on hard times as other countries in the region grew stronger and even supplanted us from our spot as the top basketball-playing nation in Asia. Despite having one of the most organized and established professional basketball leagues in the world, the Philippines has lagged behind in continued development of homegrown talent that will be able to compete in a world-class level.

We still dominate the SEA games, William Jones Cup, and other tournaments to a certain degree but competing in prestigious FIBA tournaments with the likes of China, South Korea, Japan, Jordan, Lebanon, and other powerhouse teams can be a tough nut to crack. Twenty years ago or so, we tend to routinely blow out these teams in huge margins but now, these teams do it to us. There are a couple of times we manage an upset but we tend to lose games when it matter the most. Remember this?

Oh yeah, Olsen Racela choked on this game big time!

Let's move on from the heartaches and failures. Maybe we can learn the lessons from the past and know why the greatest Philippine basketball teams were successful. Which of the teams below can be considered as the "greatest Philippine basketball team of all time"? Bear in mind, it is not about having the greatest individual players on the squad nor the greatest collective talent. Winning is also part of the reason why these teams are great. With talent and winning into consideration, which team is deserving to have that "greatest ever" accolade?

1954 Philippine Team
Played in:
1954 FIBA World Championship in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - Bronze Medal (6W 3L)
1954 Asian Games in Manila, Philippines - Gold Medal (6W 0L)

3 Lauro Mumar (captain), 4 Francisco Rabat, 5 Napoleon Flores, 6 Mariano Tolentino, 7 Benjamin Francisco, 8 Rafael Barretto, 9 Ponciano Saldaña, 10 Florentino Bautista, 11 Ramon Manulat, 12 Bayani Amador, 13 Antonio Genato, 14 Carlos Loyzaga — Coach: Herminio Silva

This is the Mount Olympus of Philippine basketball (even on an Asian level) because it is the best finish of any Asian team that played in FIBA's world championship tournament. It was the same year that the Philippines captured back-to-back gold medals in Asian Games basketball, the first country to do so. Carlos Loyzaga was considered as the best player in Asia at that time.

1936 Philippine Team

Played in:
1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin, Germany - 5th (4W 1L)

Charles Borck, Antonio Carillo, Jacinto Ciria Cruz, Franco Marquicias, Primitivo Martínez, Jesus Marzan, Amador Obordo, Bibiano Quano, Miguel Pardo, Ambrosio Padilla (captain), John Worrell, Fortunato Yambao — Coach: Dionisio Calvo

Considered as the first "true" national team, the 1936 Olympic team finished fifth (still the best finish by any Asian team in the Olympics) even though it only lost one game. Most of us don't know the real story of this forgotten national team but their legacy remains golden as our aspiration for Olympic gold continues until this day.

1956 Philippine Team
Played in:
1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia - Quarterfinalist 7th (4W 4L)

3 Ramon Manulat, 4 Ramon Campos Jr, 5 Carlos Badion, 6 Loreto Carbonell, 7 Martin Urra, 8 Rafael Barretto, 9 Leonardo Marquicias, 10 Antonio Villamor, 11 Mariano Tolentino, 12 Carlos Loyzaga, 13 Antonio Genato (captain), 14 Eduardo Lim — Coach: Leo Prieto

Despite getting the holdovers from the 1954 FIBA World Championship team that finished 3rd place, the 1956 Olympic team failed to duplicate its success by stumbling out in the quarterfinals. Nevertheless, the team is loaded with talent that can even compete against any pioneering PBA teams in the 70s.

1960 Philippine Team
Played in:
1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, Italy - 11th place (4W 4L)
1960 Asian Basketball Confederation* Championship in Manila, Philippines - Champions (9W 0L)
*-now FIBA Asia Championship

13 Emilio Achacoso, 6 Kurt Bachmann, 3 Carlos Badión (Captain), 4 Narciso Bernardo, 15 Cristobal Ramas, 9 Alfonso Márquez, 10 Edgardo Ocampo, 5 Constancio Ortíz, 7 Roberto Yburan, 8 Eduardo Pacheco, 11 Geronimo Cruz, 12 Edgardo Roque — Coach: Arturo Ríus

Reserve (played in the ABC Championship):
Loreto Carbonell, Nicolas Carranceja, Eduardo Lim, Carlos Loyzaga (Captain), Leonardo del Pilar, Mariano Tolentino

Carlos Loyzaga remained the skipper of the Philippine team, now powered by young and untested collegians, as the country hosted the inaugural ABC Championship. It bulldozed all opposition enroute to a gold medal finish with a whopping average winning margin of 30 points. Loyzaga wasn't able to suite up for the 1960 Olympics and the team stumbled into 11th place.

1962 Philippine Team
Played in:
1962 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia - Gold Medal (7W 0L)

Lineup: Carlos Loyzaga, Loreto Carbonell, Nicolas Carranceja, Mariano Tolentino, Narciso Bernardo, Kurt Bachmann, Edgardo Roque, Alfonso Marquez, Edgardo Ocampo, Emilio Achacoso, Eduardo Pacheco — Coach: Enrique Crame

The Philippines successfully defended their title and got their fourth straight Asian Games championship. Carlos Loyzaga sets the Filipino all-time record for the most appearances by a Filipino in the Asian Games basketball tournament.

1973 Philippine Team
Played in:
1973 ABC Championship in Manila, Philippines - Champions (9W 0L)

4 Alberto Reynoso, 5 Abet Guidaben, 6 Jimmy Mariano, 7 Robert Jaworski, 8 Francis Arnaiz, 9 Rogelio Melencio, 10 Ramon Fernandez, 11 Bogs Adornado, 12 Ricardo Cleofas, 13 Manny Paner, 14 Yoyong Martirez, 15 David Regullano — Coach: Valentin Eduque

This team was considered to be best amateur team the Philippines has produced prior to the inclusion of professional players into the national team. You can compare it to the amateur version of the Centennial Team that played in the 1991 SEA Games. Many of these players, who plied their wares in the MICAA, eventually found their own niches in the Philippine Basketball Association in 1975.

In action:

1986 Philippine Team
Played in:
1986 ABC Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - Champions (6W 0L)
1985 William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan - Champions (6W 0L)

1985 Intercontinental Cup* - 7th (1W 3L)
*-this defunct tournament was also known as the World Cup for Champion Clubs

4 Hector Calma, 5 Franz Pumaren, 6 Pido Jarencio, 7 Elmer Reyes, 8 Allan Caidic, 9 Samboy Lim, 10 Alfie Almario, 11 Tonichi Yturri, 12 Yves Dignadice, 13 Dennis Still, 14 Jerry Codiñera, 15 Jeff Moore — Coach: Ron Jacobs

Although there was another Philippine team that played in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul, South Korea, the other team under the corporate name of Northern Consolidated Cement is the most hyped about team. Coached by the legendary Ron Jacobs, the team took the region by storm by winning the prestigious Jones Cup in convincing fashion. Powered by naturalized Filipinos like Jeff Moore, Dennis Still, and Arthur "Chip" Engelland, the team won the 1986 ABC Championship against China thereby giving them to show their wares on that year's FIBA World Basketball Championship. It was not to be as the political conditions in the country deteriorated and the People Power revolution ended all hopes of sending a team to that tournament.

In action:

1990 Philippine Team
Played in:
1990 Asian Games in Beijing, China - Silver Medal (4W 2L)

4 Hector Calma, 5 Ronnie Magsanoc, 6 Alvin Patrimonio, 7 Benjie Paras, 8 Allan Caidic, 9 Samboy Lim, 10 Ramon Fernandez, 11 Dante Gonzalgo, 12 Yves Dignadice, 13 Zaldy Realubit, 14 Chito Loyzaga, 15 Rey Cuenco — Coach: Robert Jaworski

For the first time, the national team is composed of professional players. Since most of the players have already played for the national team in the amateur ranks so the team is expected to perform better than the previous national squads. A mixture of youthful athleticism and veteran smarts proved to be a powerful combination as the team almost captured the gold medal over the host country.

In action:

1998 Philippine "Centennial" Team
Played in:
1998 Asian Games in Bangkok, Thailand - Bronze Medal (4W 3L)
1998 William Jones Cup in Taipei, Taiwan - Champions (6W 0L)

4 Alvin Patrimonio, 5 Andy Seigle, 6 Jojo Lastimosa, 7 Dennis Espino, 8 Allan Caidic, 9 Jun Limpot, 10 Vergel Meneses, 11 E.J. Feihl, 12 Olsen Racela, 13 Marlou Aquino, 14 Johnny Abarrientos, 15 Kenneth Duremdes — Coach: Tim Cone

Considered as the Philippine's own "Dream Team," the Centennial Team (from the country's 100th independence anniversary) as it is called, is composed of the best PBA players of their prime. Led by the winningest coach of the decade, the team was put into even deeper scrutiny to perform the best basketball the country has had in a long, long time. Competing as a "guest team" in the PBA Centennial Cup, the team only won one game. Bad publicity marred their US tour as a solitary victory was only the lone bright spot capped with an ugly brawl with a US college team. The injury of the high-flying Danny Seigle in the run up to the Asian Games may be the biggest blow to the team's success. Although they won the first four games, close score defeats to traditional rivals China and South Korea relegated them to the bronze medal.

In my own opinion, this team has the best-looking jersey in Philippine national basketball team history.

In action:

These teams are definitely tough act to follow knowing that last time we played in a global level was in the 1972 Munich Olympics and 1978 FIBA World Championship that we hosted. The last time we won a major international basketball title was the 1986 FIBA Asia Championship (the only ticket to the world championship) and the 1962 Asian Games gold medal (we only settled for the silver in the 1990 Asian Games).

When can we regain Asian basketball supremacy? Only time will tell...

Photo Credits (SkyscraperCity | | SkyscraperCity | GMA News)

Post a Comment

  1. Th 1954 squad is the greatest Philippine basketball team of all time...nothing can beat their 3rd place finish

  2. now i know. bakit di nakapaglaro sa FIBA World Championship ang Phils kahit nag top sila sa FIBA Asia Championship.. Kasi pala People Power nun

  3. kailangan talaga ng reinforcements ang Smart Gilas para mag succeed...let the best players play...bayan muna bago PBA club


Blogger Profile

{picture#} JP Canonigo is a historian, professional blogger and copywriter, online content specialist, copywriter, video game junkie, sports fanatic and jack-of-all trades. {facebook#} {twitter#} {google#}
Powered by Blogger.