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The Name Game

So we don’t call them Gilas any more? 😮 Are we also ditching the battlecry “Laban Pilipinas”? And “Puso” in lieu of “Utak” this time? And collectively call our Men's Basketball Team simply, "Team Pilipinas"?

What's wrong using the Gilas monicker?

It's been a household brand like what Colgate is to toothpaste. Or Malabanan is to—take a deep breath—poso negro siphoning!

Gilas is Pilipinas Basketball all these years. And it’s been the pinnacle of sorts or #hoopgoals for every Filipino athlete (even if they made it to the NBA, right Jordan Clarkson?! 😉). It's huge when a PBA player is called and then labeled with it, like: "wow pare, Gilas ka na!" Then followed by an off-the-record remark: "Mag-max contract ka na, bruh'—or—"Wow, mate-trade ka na sa mas galanteng PBA team!"

But here we are at a certain juncture. Lots of things have transpired in the past months. Good things. And some really not-so-good. The brawl. The Asian Games pull-out. Then back again. Token team, fine. 😎Then a Jordan Clarkson buzzer beater to make the cast. And recently here comes Coach Chot once more retiring from unretirement.

But we can't be just Team Pilipinas, or can we really? What's in a name? Or a monicker in particular. It's a cultural tradition. In most places here in the beautiful Philippines people are known for their "bansag"—their monickers. You go to a place looking for a certain person and say their full PSA-verified name. The tambays wouldn't have a clue. But when somebody blurts out: "Ah si Tisoy ba, andun bahay sa may blue na gate!" Now we're back in the ball game.

Gilas was coined to perfection it seems. It illustrates the Filipino spirit of gallantry, prowess. And in our case—oftentimes underdogs in the bigger arena—with distinct and unique form of ability to achieve something, to gather strength in overcoming certain obstacle. Aside from the Pinoy "diskarte", Gilas is Pinoy swag—BUT must beam with such low-key and humbled pride. Gilas is Pinoy basketball.

Yes, it's been greatly identified with a specific patron in the MVP group. For a time we all got used to saying "Smart Gilas". Perhaps that's one reason why the wind is blowing west. Or they call a transition to something different. Maybe more neutral. Maybe a re-branding that will be amenable to the rival corporate group, let's say for instance, the San Miguel Corporation. And true enough, we see a lot of changes. We see the players we dreamed of donning the Gilas kits someday soon. Scottie. Greg. Marcio. Alex Cabagnot. Wow! In the past it's either they are sick or injured or bring out the card called "mga bagay na hindi kontrolado" each time they are invited to play for flag.

It's a new day for Pilipinas basketball. We got Coach Yeng who made a great account of himself albeit in an ad interim capacity last Asian Games. But now it's for real. With Coach Chot calling it a day, CYG is here to stay (damn, that rhymes 😂). And looks like SBP has found a perfect fit of a coach in him who can bridge the great corporate divide within the Philippine basketball politics.

But is it really necessary to play the naming game? When some of our politicians are bored or perhaps feeling compelled to show an accomplishment, here's what some do for a legislation: change the name of a street.

We can't just un-gilas, uhm, Gilas Pilipinas. It's like going to  sari-sari store to buy a fabric conditioner: "Pabili po ng Downy, yung Surf daw po sabi ni Tatay!"

On a final note, the moment the #labanpilipinas battlecry has been declared void ab initio, then this very blog is going to have an existential crisis. A hermeneutical dilemma of sorts. Maybe start to contemplate suiting up a new name. How about "Laba Ball", sounds like a big baller, huh?! 😜

...follow @labapilipinas on twitter for some sports laundering!


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