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Bringing Down the House: Introducing Jared Bahay

Take note of this name: Jared Bahay.

Adam Sandler’s latest hit movie Hustle tells the story of an unknown international basketball prospect making his way to the NBA. It’s a great movie, but it paints a rather unrealistic picture. In the world of basketball, being known is the greatest asset you have. For every Bo Cruz story, there are countless other would-be basketball greats that never saw the big stage.

Jared Bahay was one of these hidden gems that almost never saw the light of day. Look up his name on Google prior to June, and the only articles you’ll see are of his call-up to the Gilas U16 squad. Outside of the scouting world and the Cebuano hoops community, no one really knew who Jared Bahay was.

Bahay himself admitted that he never thought that he’d get a chance to play for Gilas. Hailing from Cebu, the 5’9″ point guard thought that his roots would hinder him from getting a shot. It came as a shock to him, then, when he got the call inviting him to try out for the national team.

“Pinangarap ko,” Bahay said when asked about his Gilas aspirations prior to his call-up, “Pero ‘di ko expected na ma-call-up ako sa Gilas. Kasi napansin ko na puro lang sa Manila ‘yung mga cina-call-up nila. So ‘di ko in-expect talaga, pero pangarap ko maging part ng Gilas.”

Bahay made sure to capitalize on this opportunity, though. The Cebuano point guard balled out in his try-outs in Manila, earning a spot on the U16 squad. The Gilas experience was actually a pleasant one for Bahay, as he got a chance to play with other players who were incredible in their own right.

“Isang karangalan na nakasama ko sila sa training… sila Coach [Josh Reyes], isang karangalan na nakasama ko ‘yung mga best prospects sa batch ko.”

The Gilas call-up also featured a great moment for Bahay, as they were able to tune up against a PBA powerhouse in the TNT Tropang Giga. In particular, Bahay got to go up against one of his idols growing up: Jayson Castro. The U16 squad also got words of encouragement from ex-Gilas standouts in Gabe Norwood, Castro, and Kelly Williams prior to their first foray into international competition.

It would be natural for any young hooper to be nervous in his first game in the international stage. For Bahay, though, his excitement and confidence drove away any nerves that might’ve shaken him prior to their match against Kuwait.

“Excited lang talaga ako na makapaglaro as a Gilas player before the first game. Pero ‘di ko na-feel ‘yung kaba, kasi alam ko kaya lang naman naming lahat ng mga teams don.”

It’s fair to say that Cebuano’s play backed up his confidence prior to the game. Indeed, Bahay looked right at home in the FIBA Asia U16 field. The diminutive point guard was a gigantic pain for his opponents all throughout the tournament. He was a blur to watch during games: one second he’s at the top of the key, the next he’s already making a crazy layup over a taller defender. It was a treat to watch the Cebuano light up his opponents during the event.

Bahay’s heroics in Qatar got him recognized by many hoop heads in and out of the country. The Gilas standout even made an appearance on FIBA’s website as one of the top standouts during the group stage. However, Bahay will be the first one to say that while it’s a pleasant surprise that he was recognized, he would’ve rather won the whole thing instead. 

“Hindi ko rin ‘yun in-expect eh, na maging one of the top performers sa FIBA Asia U16… Masaya siguro ako, na nakasama ako, pero ‘di ‘yun ‘yung ultimate goal ko eh. Ang goal ko talaga ay maka-qualify sa World Cup.”

After breezing past Kazakhstan in the first round of the playoffs, Bahay and Gilas Pilipinas were up against a mighty opponent. Team Australia was the defending champion of the tournament, and for good reason. Their length and height seemed to be a bad matchup for Bahay, who was easily one of the smallest players in the field. Many thought that this would be the end of the Baby Gilas’ run in Qatar.

Instead, Bahay and the Gilas crew absolutely torched the Australians in the opening half. They would rack up more and more points, all while showing disciplined defense on the other side. At the heart of that run was Bahay, who was his usual feisty self during that game. He ferociously drove through the heart of the Aussie defense, evoking shades of what his idol has done to many of his foes from other nations.

Bahay calls that first half the best moment of his FIBA U16 run, and for good reason. Hanging a twenty-point lead on the defending champs is an achievement in its own right. Unfortunately, though, the Aussies’ length and experience trumped Gilas’ fearlessness, ending their hopes for a berth at the FIBA U16 World Championship.

Despite the loss, though, there’s plenty to be excited about this U16 core. Caelum Harris proved his hype and then some, scoring the ball with aplomb. Zain Mahmood and Alex Konov were also spectacular in their own right. Filipino hoop fans who followed that tournament will come out hopeful after that incredible run.

And then, there’s Bahay, who shone brightly during the entire tournament. The once-unknown prospect from Cebu is now on track to be a household name in Philippine basketball. It’s crazy to imagine that only a few months ago, Bahay was nowhere near any casual Gilas fan’s radar. Now, he’s probably the hottest young local prospect in the country.

Now, everyone is eagerly awaiting Jared Bahay’s next move. If his goals are anything to go by, this won’t be the last time we’ll be hearing his name associated with the blue-and-white of the Philippine team. He’s already working hard to build off of this incredible run in Qatar.

“Siguro 10 years from now, pag na-bring up ‘yung name ko sa conversations, maiisip nila na isa siya sa best na point guards to play for Gilas.”

Look out, everyone. Jared Bahay is ready to let everyone know that Gilas will be his house.