Lightning did not strike twice for Gilas Pilipinas.
Many expected the Filipino dribblers would be able to emulate their victory over Kazakhstan back in the Asian Games last August, when they crossed paths anew in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. But come game time, Gilas stumbled.
After obliterating the Central Asian squad by 37 points in the quadrennial meet, Gilas suffered a heartbreaking 88-92 loss – one unfortunately witnessed by nearly 20,000 people at the Mall of Asia Arena.
This was not the way Gilas wanted to come out in front of the home crowd, especially after being touted as the greatest collection of talent for the national team. And for Yeng Guiao, he admitted that they’re still far from the team they want to be.
“We’re still a long way from being the team that we really wanted to be, and be able to explore all our potentials,” said the head coach.
Gilas received support from Stanley Pringle (29 points), June Mar Fajardo (14 points, 13 rebounds), and Marcio Lassiter (13 points), but it clearly wasn’t enough to take down the visiting Kazakhs.
There were even three players from Gilas who laid big fat eggs despite having enough time on the court.
Moreover, Guiao’s fear came true; the Kazakhs shot an excellent 57.1 percent from the floor, including 12-of-23 from beyond the arc. The head coach had pointed out before that Gilas would be in trouble if Kazakhstan got hot from outside.
“I’ve said this before: if Kazakhstan is able to shoot threes, we’re in trouble. And I think they were fifty-two percent from three points.”
But for the fiery tactician, he’s holding himself accountable for Friday’s defeat, which brings Gilas to 5-4.
“I’m taking responsibility naman for this game. I felt that everybody in the team is there because I decided to.”
But as painful as the loss is, Guiao said that they can’t afford to dwell on it. The team has to prepare for Iran, whom they will face on Monday, December 3.
“Of course we’re disappointed but we still have one game on Monday,” he said.
“We can’t feel too negative of ourselves. I think we can salvage the situation to be able to play a good game against Iran and learn from this game.”
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