Philippines Dream Team

Philippines Dream Team

Philippines Dream Team is a nickname given to the Philippines' 1990 Asian Games basketball team, fully made up of professional players from the Philippine Basketball Association. This was the first time that the country ever sent a national team made up of professionals players. However, unlike the United States' Dream Team, this team was called such because its main goal was to wrest back Asian basketball supremacy from teams such as China. Note that the nickname was only given only recently, more than a decade after the team had finished competing in the said tournament.

Formation

In 1989, FIBA made a rule change for an "open basketball", which would allow players in professional, commercial or club ranks to play in any international events instead of the old ruling of only allowing amateur players.

This led to the PBA and the Basketball Association of the Philippines forging a deal to have an all-pro squad to send a team to the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing.

Añejo Rhum playing coach Robert Jaworski was named head coach of the squad with San Miguel Beer head coach Norman Black as assistant coach. With only two weeks to prepare, Jaworski assembled the lineup made of some of the best players in the league:
* Allan Caidic (Presto)
* Hector Calma (San Miguel Beer)
* Rey Cuenco (Añejo Rhum)
* Yves Dignadice (San Miguel Beer)
* Ramon Fernandez (San Miguel Beer)
* Dante Gonzalgo (Añejo Rhum)
* Samboy Lim (San Miguel Beer)
* Chito Loyzaga (Añejo Rhum)
* Ronnie Magsanoc (Formula Shell)
* Benjie Paras (Formula Shell)
* Alvin Patrimonio (Purefoods)
* Zaldy Realubit (Presto)

Four players were taken from San Miguel, a year after they won the coveted grand slam, with Jaworski inserting former teammate and former rival Mon Fernandez in the lineup. Cuenco, Gonzalgo and Loyzaga, players for Jaworski's Añejo squad were included in the list. Purefoods center Jerry Codinera was originally named in the 12-man line-up but was stricken with hepatitis weeks before the Games and eventually replaced by Realubit. Nelson Asaytono and Bong Alvarez were part of the pool as alternates though they did not join the team to Beijing.

Asian Games

The Philippines won their first three assignments against Pakistan, Japan and North Korea by an average of 24 points. However, the Filipinos were demolished in their fourth assignment against host China via a whooping 125-60 rout.

The team managed to beat Japan in the semifinals 94-90 to set-up a rematch against the Chinese in the championship game.

In the championship, China defeated the Philippines 90-74, a far better performance from their 65-point blowout in their first meeting. The silver medal finish was the Philippines' best since winning the 1968 Asian Games. Another consolation the team got was forward Samboy Lim was chosen as part of the Mythical Five.

Finals

* loss to China 90-74

Aftermath

The Philippines sent another all-pro squad in the next three Asian Games. The 1994 team was made up mostly of the San Miguel Beer squad, an incentive for winning the All-Filipino Cup championship. However, depleted by injuries, San Miguel acquired players from other teams along with amateur such as Alvin Patrimonio, Jerry Codiñera, Johnny Abarrientos, Marlou Aquino and Kenneth Duremdes. But the country went home without a medal finishing fourth behind China, South Korea and Japan.

In 1998, the a third all-PBA squad was sent and was dubbed as the Philippine Centennial Team coached by Tim Cone. Led by Abarrientos, Duremdes, Aquino, Patrimonio and Vergel Meneses, the country failed to win the gold medal after losing by nine points to China with future NBA player Wang Zhi-Zhi in the semifinals. The country was relegated to a third-place game against Kazashztan and won the bronze medal in close-fought match.

Four years later in Busan, the country went home empty-handed after a disappointing fourth place finish. The Filipinos, mostly led by Filipino-American players, were handed a heart-breaking loss to host South Korea in the semis thanks to a Lee Sang-Min buzzer-beating three-pointer. The next day, the Philippines lost to the Kazazhs for the bronze medal. Jong Uichico coached the 2002 squad.

The PBA was supposed to abandon the Asian Games for the FIBA-Asia Championships, which at stake is a World Championship or an Olympic slot, after a 2004 deal with the BAP. But a two-year suspension was handed out denying the country a chance to play for those events mentioned including the 2006 Doha Asian Games. The country has since been lifted off the suspension after the formation of the BAP-Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas.

References


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