Editor's note: To mark 10 years of the Gilas Pilipinas program, ESPN5.com will be publishing a "Gilas series" with one article a day for the next 11 days. Here we name defining moments in the program.
The Gilas program has had its ups and downs in its 10-year existence. But these seven moments will always stand out.
Back in the mix
August 2011: Gilas, backstopped by PBA players Jimmy Alapag, Asi Taulava, Ranidel De Ocampo and Kelly Williams and coached by Rajko Toroman, finishes fourth in the 2011 FIBA Asia Championship after a heartbreaking 68-70 loss to South Korea in their bronze medal match. Marcus Douthit has 27 points and 22 rebounds in a losing effort. Regardless, it's the best finish for the Philippines in the tournament since 1987.
Triumph in Taiwan
August 2012: An all-PBA Gilas team, now coached by Chot Reyes and reinforced by Douthit, wins the 34th William Jones Cup, beating the United States 76-75 in the last playing day to finish with a tournament-best 7-1 record. LA Tenorio scores 20 points and was named tournament MVP. It was the first Jones Cup title for the Philippines since 1998, and the first with a Filipino coach.
The curse is broken
August 2013: Gilas bucks the loss of Douthit to a calf injury in the second period and beats South Korea, 86-79, in a semifinal match in the FIBA Asia Championship in Manila to qualify for the 2014 FIBA World Cup, ending a 36-year absence from the quadrennial tournament and a string of stinging losses against the Koreans. Jayson Castro has 17, Marc Pingris has a double-double of 16 and 10, and Filipinos everywhere have tears in their eyes.
Performing on the world stage
September 2014: Gilas beats Senegal, 81-79, in overtime in Seville, Spain for the Philippines' first win in the FIBA World Cup since 1974. Jimmy Alapag and new naturalized player Andray Blatche both score 18, while June Mar Fajardo adds 15. Gilas finishes with a 1-4 record, including close losses against world powers Argentina and Croatia.
Beating mighty Iran
September 2015: Gilas, parading several new faces after a number of star PBA players beg off, topples defending champion Iran, 87-73, in the FIBA Asia Championship second round. Jayson Castro leads the way with 26 points while Blatche adds 18 and Gilas newcomers Terrence Romeo and Calvin Abueva chip in 15 and 13, respectively. This gritty Gilas team eventually finishes second after losing to host China, 67-78, in the gold medal match where a slot in the 2016 Rio Olympics was at stake.
That unfortunate brawl
July 2018: When you say "defining moments", unfortunately this isn't limited to positive ones. July 2, 2018 will forever live in basketball infamy following one of the worst in-game fights to ever break out. You all know what happened here, but for those who don't, Gilas ends this game, a 53-89 blowout loss to Australia in a 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifier, with just three players after nearly everyone is thrown out following a brawl in the third period. It would lead to a big upheaval in the Gilas program.
With a little help from our (Korean) friends
February 2019: Talk about sneaking in. Heading into the last day of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Gilas still isn't assured of a ticket to China. Two things need to happen: Gilas beating Kazakhstan in Astana and South Korea beating Lebanon in Beirut. The first wasn't a sure thing; Lebanon had stunned Gilas at the Mall of Asia Arena in November. But Blatche's 41 propels Gilas to a runaway 93-75 win to satisfy one half of the conditions. A familiar name in Ricardo Ratliffe helps secure the second one as the former PBA import, now a naturalized player for Korea, drops 25 points in an 84-72 victory. The players start celebrating on the bench even before the Kazakhstan game is over after they get word of Korea's impending win and give coach Yeng Guiao a victory ride after the final buzzer.