Rafe Bartholomew weighs in on Team Gilas Pilipinas’ winning chances

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

August 18, 2014

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – He may be born and raised in the U.S., but ESPN sportswriter Rafe Bartholomew is Filipino at heart.

The former Philippine resident, who authored Pacific Rims, which chronicles the basketball craze in the Philippines, recently followed the Philippines National team during their Miami training camp.

“They were doing two a day practices working really hard,” said Bartholomew. “Really committed everyone seems and really were buying into the mission of Gilas Pilipinas: ‘Laban Pilipinas Puso.’”

While Gilas had a tough tournament that ended with a 50 point loss to Ukraine over the weekend, Bartholomew believes the team has a chance to make an impact in this month’s FIBA World Cup.

“I think the goal that Gilas has set is to make it past the first round – to do that they have to win two games in their group which will be a challenge,” said the Filipino sportswriter. “They’ll face tough teams: Croatia, Argentine, Greece – but at the same time they know that they’re going to have advantages over other teams and they’re going to try to exploit their speed, creativity of the Filipino game. I hope they get to the second round.”

While the Philippines waits to see how Gilas will fare, Bartholomew says this year is an exciting NBA season, with several Filipinos inching closer to making NBA rosters.

“If Jordan Clarkson – and all indications are he’s going to be on the Laker’s roster this year – he’ll be the first Filipino-American player with Filipino heritage since Raymond Townsend in the 1970s to play in the NBA,” said Bartholomew. “And there’s no way playing in a place here like Los Angeles – the biggest Filipino community in Southern California – that people are not going to embrace him and watch him succeed.”

Gilas returned to Spain to continue preparing for the World Cup which begins on August 30.

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