Is it thank you for a national heartache?By Recah Trinidad
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Before the original message gets erased, somebody please take the Smart phone from the losing national basketball coach.
Try another system, save, then send the honest truth to countless Filipino sports fans, whose spirits sank with the fallen Smart Gilas Pilipinas team in Wuhan, China, over the weekend.
Coach Rajko Toroman claimed they were crushed by Jordan on Saturday because “the exact opposite happened on all things they had wanted.”
That was garbled, vague.
The humbled coach was trying to beat around the bush.
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Jordan, for the record, won because it was clearly superior.
Jordan won because it was better trained, better coached, properly motivated.
Toroman reasoned the Filipinos were not mentally prepared.
Honest translation: Smart Gilas was inferior.
Toroman was outmaneuvered, although not entirely in offense.
He lost after he failed to match and stand up to Jordan’s unforgiving vascular defense.
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That, of course, was not for Toroman to say.
“We dug deep, deep. We’re also more experienced,” said Jordan coach Thomas Baldwin.
He explained the low shooting percentage suffered by Smart Gilas was a result of their tough defense.
Smart Gilas was held down to 31 percent shooting from the field.
No, it was not actually a failure of nerve on the part of Smart Gilas.
They did try to make a go of it, but in the end proved shallow, if not truly soft and heartless.
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They lost focus, got scattered and was horribly pushed into a low-percentage groove.
Baldwin did not say it but they also found Smart Gilas predictable.
No, Smart Gilas was not a copycat, but Baldwin noted they were a lot similar to the Iran team, which Toroman had successfully coached.
Smart Gilas did beat Jordan in the Wuhan Fiba-Asia group stage.
Jordan, on the other hand, next upset Iran, the defending Fiba-Asia champion.
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Naturally, not a few experts said Smart Gilas felt it would be enjoying a tremendous edge in the semifinals, based on the result against Jordan earlier.
Jordan, on the other hand, would use that defeat to the Philippines as its biggest motivation—the reason they were a lot fiercer, more determined in the semifinal round rematch against the Philippines.
“We were sloppy at the start,” said Rashem Wright, the naturalized Jordan mainstay. “But we next played harder and stuck together.”
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On the whole, no other team could’ve been better motivated than Smart Gilas, whose campaign was bankrolled by the driven tycoon-sportsman Manny V. Pangilinan.
It was not also surprising that Filipino fans, both here and abroad, next stuck it out with their national team once again.
From Lipa City to Pangasinan and Kidapawan, from Cayman, to Athens and Anaheim, this reporter received requests for updates on the Smart Gilas drive.
They believed again.
They cheered and offered prayers.
It’s therefore unnerving how one resident team apologist had insisted the fallen national squad must now be hailed and emulated, despite having caused a national heartache.
If there’s another true message, it’s this overdue call for an honest reshaping of the national squad, the sensible re-direction of the limping national basketball program.
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