GILAS Pilipinas will once again fight for supremacy in the continent beginning on Wednesday in the 2022 Fiba Asia Cup to be held in Jakarta, Indonesia.
The Philippines has a rich history in the Fiba Asia Cup, also known previously as the ABC Championship and the Fiba Asia Championship, winning five titles in the competition, most of which came during the inception of the tournament.
We look back at the previous times the country won the title.
The Philippines swept the inaugural staging of the ABC (Asian Basketball Confederation) Championship held at the Rizal Memorial Stadium.
Led by Caloy Loyzaga, the Nationals won all six preliminary matches by an average margin of 36.3 points, and claimed the next three games in the next phase, defeating South Korea, 96-82, and Japan, 92-80. Loyzaga had 18 points and Narciso Bernardo had 16 in the Philippines’ 99-78 win over Taiwan to take the crown and earning a spot in the Olympics in Rome that year.
The Philippine team won its second straight ABC crown in Taipei, but had to earn the title. The national squad lost the final two games of the preliminaries to Korea, 62-59, and Taiwan, 70-65. It lost to Taiwan again, 96-81, in the next phase.
But the Philippines avenged their defeats against Taiwan in the championship, winning the contest, 91-77, for its second title in the ABC. Articles posted by rpbasketballphotos.blogspot.com bared Loyzaga provided the steadying presence in the final despite playing with an injury, with Bernardo also joining Ed Ocampo, Geronimo Cruz, and Renato Reyes in earning All-Asian team distinction.
The Philippines missed out on a third straight ABC crown, but bounced back in 1967 with a sweep of the games including an 83-80 victory over host Korea. According to the rpbasketballphotos.blogspot.com, Bernardo led the team with Loyzaga moving to head coach with 23 points against the sweet-shooting Shin Dong Pa, who was limited to 10 markers. Also in the squad were Adriano Papa, Orly Bauzon, and a young Robert Jaworski. Aside from the ABC crown, the Philippines also bagged a spot in the 1968 Olympics.
The ABC Championship returned to Manila in 1973, and the Philippine team treated its home fans with another title in the competition. The Nationals swept their five games of the eliminations as well as in the championship round, capping the tournament with a 90-78 win over Korea. It was the last time a Philippine team of purely homegrown players captured the Asian crown, with most of the players moving on to become stars in the newly formed PBAm among them Ramon Fernandez, Jaworski, and Bogs Adornado, the tournament MVP.
The basketball squad ended a 12-year title drought when the Northern Consolidated-backed national squad ruled the 1985 ABC Championship. A team of young players plus naturalized cagers Jeff Moore, Dennis Still, and Chip Engelland won the crown in Malaysia. After winning the first three games of the eliminations, the Philippines claimed the final three matches including an 82-72 win over China. Players of the squad also went on to become PBA legends like Samboy Lim, Allan Caidic, Hector Calma, and Jerry Codinera, among others.
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