How Gilas Pilipinas Reclaimed the Asian Games Men’s Basketball Gold After Over Six Decades: A Triumph 61 Years in the Making

Gilas Pilipinas Asian Games Men’s Basketball
Triumphant Return: The Gilas Pilipinas men jump in jubilation as they end a 61-year gold medal drought and write a new chapter in Philippine basketball history. Photo post from Olympic Councill of Asia.

In an awe-inspiring turn of events that stirred the collective Filipino soul, Gilas Pilipinas shattered a six-decade-long dry spell, clinching the coveted gold medal in men’s basketball at the 2023 Asian Games. Held in the electrifying atmosphere of Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center in China, the Filipino squad stunned an unbeaten Jordanian team and dimmed the fervor of the local crowd, a feat that paralleled their last golden era in the early 1960s.

Ah, those glorious years when the likes of FIBA Hall of Famer Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga were the titans of Asian basketball. The legendary Nationals once ruled the first four editions of the Asian Games—1951, 1954, 1958, and 1962—etching a legacy that had long been yearning for a revival. Until now.

A Journey Lined with Triumphs and Trials

Their climb back to the pinnacle was far from smooth. Gilas Pilipinas navigated a maze of formidable rivals, besting Qatar, squeaking past Iran, and stunning China to set up the fateful clash against an unbeaten Jordanian squad. However, the team’s resilience was on full display. While Jordan initially forced the Gilas into shaky three-point attempts, the Filipino team adjusted, and by the second quarter, the Jordanians found themselves trailing.

Seizing the Gold

Finally, on October 6, 2023, a fresh wave of Filipino magic swept over the court. Revenging their earlier 25-point group-stage loss, Gilas Pilipinas pulled off a breathtaking 70-60 victory against Jordan. On the way to this monumental win, the squad dismantled formidable foes like Qatar, Iran, and even the intimidating Chinese team, showcasing an evolutionary style of play that stunned spectators.

The tension was palpable; each shot was a ripple in the collective heartbeat of two nations. But Gilas Pilipinas stood unflinching, even when the local crowd hurled jeers and taunts their way. Trading lead changes and heroic plays, the game reached its zenith when Gilas Pilipinas ripped off a decisive 14-4 run, leaving Jordan trailing by 10 points at the end of the third quarter. The undaunted Filipino defense and sharp three-pointers gradually tilted the game, sealing Jordan’s fate as the clock ticked down.

As the final buzzer rang out, a respectful handshake between the teams gave way to uninhibited Filipino jubilance—both on the court and in the stands. The Philippines had done it. After 61 years, gold was coming home.

The Heroes Speak

Justin Brownlee, who anchored the team with 20 points and stood as the relentless backbone throughout the tournament, humbly said, “The Filipino heart, the Filipino pride…there is nothing like it. We displayed it in this tournament. We were down in some games, and we were up, and then we came back. The Filipino heart toughened us up a lot, especially in this gold medal game.”

Chris Newsome echoed this sentiment, stating, “There was a lot of people who didn’t think we could do it, and we proved them wrong.”

Angelo Kouame chimed in, adding, “We wanted to fight for everybody, we wanted to fight for the country. A month after the World Cup, we knew that our national team really needed that win.” Referencing how the team surpassed its performance at the FIBA World Cup, he added, “Everybody came together and that was a great team effort.”

Earl Scottie Thompson said, “This is special for us, for our country. This is a very meaningful win because we made history. Our game plan was to stay aggressive because every possession counts. We also followed our defensive game plan that our coaches gave us, and it worked.”

A Legacy Resurrected

Long before this resurgence, Filipino basketball witnessed multiple near-misses. From the heartbreaking losses in 1998 and 2002 to disappointing finishes in the recent editions, it had been a trail of lost opportunities and what-ifs.

But the 2023 Asian Games marked a new chapter, one scripted with unyielding determination and strategic brilliance, led by a team that overcame setbacks and roster changes to bring home the gold.

The glorious return to basketball supremacy also gives the Philippines its fourth gold medal, following double golds from Filipina women jiu jitsu Meggie Ochoa and Annie Ramirez, and the first gold from pole vaulter EJ Obiena.

WATCH the gold-winning Gilas Pilipinas game highlights here:

Feel the exhilaration and share the joy. If this story of tenacity, skill, and pure Filipino grit resonates with you, don’t forget to SHARE THIS ARTICLE. Let’s celebrate this monumental win and uplift the Filipino spirit, wherever we are in the world.

Good News Pilipinas is a Lasallian Scholarum Awardee. TELL US your good news story tips by messaging on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram, or e-mailing

Facebook Comments

- Advertisement -
The Good News Pilipinas Team is a group of Filipino journalists who advocate putting more good news stories about the Philippines and Filipinos on the media.