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2016 Manila OQT

Manila OQT Shootaround Day 3: Tuloy ang laban, Pilipinas

“Be proud.”

Those were the only two words Gilas Pilipinas captain Gabe Norwood could mutter in the Philippines’ final huddle after losing to New Zealand, 89-80, in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Manila on Wednesday night.

“I just told them to be proud. You can’t stop being proud. We are wearing a flag across our chests. As badly as it hurts, we know the effort we put in as well. It probably hurts the most how much effort we put in tonight and still come up short. That’s what hurts,” Norwood shared.

“But we’re a strong group. We have respect for one another on and off the court. I think that’s what makes this team tougher.”

The nationals exited in an abrupt and heartbreaking manner, as the Tall Blacks put an end to the country’s goal of advancing to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.

Silence had enveloped the Mall of Asia Arena prior to the final huddle; the atmosphere on that night was different to begin with. Unlike in the France game where Gilas had been phenomenal in the first quarter, New Zealand asserted control early and sucked the noise out of the building.

It was been the story for almost the entire night, as Gilas fell hard.

“I know it hurts for everybody. It pains me to be in this situation. I speak for the whole team. It’s a tough process. New Zealand came out with a hell of a game,” Norwood said. “We just didn’t have answers tonight.”

“I kind of was at a loss for words. We didn’t expect ourselves to be in this situation.”

But no matter how difficult the situation was for Gilas and its millions of fans, they should still draw strength from the experience.

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“It hurts, but also I want to say thank you to the best fans in the world. Hopefully this continues to bring pride to our country and the game of basketball. Hopefully we continue to move forward with the Gilas program,” Norwood said.

Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin said that while losing is painful, the setbacks are necessary for Gilas to become a more competitive group against top-level competition in the future.

“It is difficult on these guys if you could only play in games like these a few times year. When you look at New Zealand’s build-up, they had 10 or 12 for preparation. I think we only had five. For the Europeans, this is their life,” he said, adding that Gilas need more exposure to succeed.

“This is the pathway. Trust me, there’s no other pathway,” he said.

“If we want to start winning at this level, we got to take more beatings at this level to learn how to win at this level.”

Gilas still proved they can stand their ground against the best teams in the world, and it is now a matter of doing things better to succeed the next time.

“I think that process is on-going, we competed well in this tournament,” Baldwin said. “But we don’t expect to just compete, we expect to win. We have to sit back and we need to try and fix it again.”

Baldwin added that he will keep the experience in mind when moving forward.

“There’s positives for all of us individually in that we had unique experiences this year with the program that we ran and the opportunity to play here in Manila,” he said. “That’s a big positive for the SBP, the Filipino fans, and for us as well. That’s a memory that we will keep with us forever. It was phenomenal.”

Gilas may have failed to end a 44-year Olympic drought, but the road does not stop here. There are many positives to be taken from the experience, and many things to look forward to in the future.

“This was a special experience. Hopefully we look back on (it) and say this is the beginning of something great,” Norwood said.

It has indeed been a sad previous 24 hours in Manila, but the experience shouldn’t feel like the end of the road. It should feel more of a starting point.

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Tuloy ang laban, Pilipinas.


Tall Blacks go for Group B top seed

FIBA-OQT-Day-2-Philippines-vs.-New-Zealand-Haka-Dance-7311 Manila OQT Shootaround Day 3: Tuloy ang laban, Pilipinas 2016 Manila OQT Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news


After beating Gilas, the New Zealand Tall Blacks can take the top spot in Group B with a win over France on Thursday night. France may still not have wing man Nicolas Batum in the game.

A win by the Tall Blacks will also mean avoiding Canada in the semi-finals and boosting their chances of making it to the Rio Olympics.

“We are confident. I think you have to be confident heading into a tournament like this. We are going to play some tough teams. But we believe we can get the job done. Our goal is to win the tournament. That’s what we are here for,” Corey Webster, who dropped 23 points against Gilas, said.


Do or die for Senegal, Turkey

FIBA-OQT-Day-2-Canada-vs.-Senegal-Chiekh-Mbodj-7096 Manila OQT Shootaround Day 3: Tuloy ang laban, Pilipinas 2016 Manila OQT Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news
After both losing to Canada, Senegal and Turkey will enter Thursday night’s tussle with the goal of clinching the second seed in Group A and battling the winner of the France-New Zealand game.

It might be a more difficult challenge for Turkey after losing Cedi Osman to injury on Tuesday night.

Senegal, meanwhile, gave Canada a tough defensive stand, and shall carry momentum heading into the do-or-die match.



Pingris hopes Gilas learns from NZL setback

FIBA-OQT-Day-2-Philippines-vs.-New-Zealand-Marc-Pingris-7473 Manila OQT Shootaround Day 3: Tuloy ang laban, Pilipinas 2016 Manila OQT Basketball Gilas Pilipinas News  - philippine sports news

Gilas forward Marc Pingris also said on Wednesday night that the squad should learn from the New Zealand loss.

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Pingris felt that Gilas hadn’t been a hundred percent ready and that New Zealand wanted the game more.

“Ginawa naman lahat eh. Pero nagkataon na maganda rin yung mga jump shot nila. Nakunan kami ng maraming rebound. Parang hindi kami lumabas na hundred percent ngayon,” he shared.

“Siguro, kumbaga iniisip namin na kayang-kaya namin sila. Kami yung kinaya talaga nila. Sana laking aral ‘to sa team.”

“Talagang mas gutom sila noong lumabas sila. Mas binigay nila yung best nila. Sila nga duma-dive sa bola eh,” he added.

Last Night’s Scores, Highlights, Top Plays

Canada 58, Senegal 55




New Zealand 89, Gilas Pilipinas 80





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