Isaac Go feels extremely proud that Gilas Pilipinas managed to defy the odds when it beat South Korea twice in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers’ third window.
The Nationals’ team captain believes that some have bet against the youthful Filipino dribblers in their showdowns with the long-time continental force. Hence the satisfaction he and the crew felt after proving the naysayers wrong.
And for him, those victories only prove that a squad can compete at such a high level if given enough time to prepare.
That’s something a luxury for Gilas, since they were in and out of their training bubble while gearing up for the tilt. They also saw the campaign postponed a few times from its original February schedule due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
“I think a lot of people didn’t have us [competing] with Korea because … I think on paper, if you look at it… I think people are gonna say, ‘Yeah, we’ll pick Korea to win the game,‘” Go said after their 82-77 win Sunday.
“I don’t know how many bubbles we had to prepare for this to get together, to know one another. There are factors there that you can’t put aside, and shows that given enough time and preparation, you can be competitive.”
It was indeed a remarkable week for the youngest men’s team. It went 3-0 in Pampanga to complete a six-game sweep of the Qualifiers. And the 25-year-old forward couldn’t be grateful enough for the experience they all had.
“It’s been a great experience, to be honest. It’s not every day you get to play teams from different countries,” he said.
“And knowing that we’re able to compete with them, to learn from them — especially as coach Tab says we’re not a very experienced team because we’re pretty young; and even though we’re young, we haven’t had the chance to go abroad and play other teams — it’s an opportunity for us to get better and become more mature players.”
With what Gilas has achieved in the recently-concluded meet, Go feels excited to see what awaits them moving forward.
“I think the sky’s the limit, because we just started to get together. We’re starting to get to know one another even better. And as we develop into a more cohesive unit, we’ll be able to read [each other] more,” he said.
“As you can see maybe, there were misreads on the court; there’s a little bit of disconnect at times. And it’s only through time that you can build the synergy. So I’m really excited for what the future holds for us.”