Marcus Douthit saw the leather slip from his grasp countless times; Gabe Norwood lost possession twice on the sidelines; and Kevin Alas had his share of miscues at the backcourt.
Through it all, the error-prone Gilas Pilipinas subdued the Shanghai Sharks, 80-72, last night in the Philippine-China Friendship Games at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Overly erratic were the Nationals that coach Chot Reyes even howled at table officials to change the ball with less than two minutes left in the game.
Japeth Aguilar scored the insurance basket in the dying seconds with a floater in the lane.
“These guys practiced for just three days but they still did well,” said Reyes after the national five committed 19 turnovers, many of them in the last period when the Sharks fought back from 19 points down.
The Sharks came to life in the fourth behind the snipings of Meng Lingyuan and the inside presence of 7-foot-3 Zhang Zhaoxu.
But Reyes was happy that his frontline held its ground against the tall Sharks. Seven-footer Greg Slaughter, 6-11 Junmar Fajardo and the 6-9 Aguilar exceeded Reyes’ expectations.
“Nobody can block Junmar in the PBA. He now knows what it feels to get blocked by players taller than him,” said Reyes, who has barely three months left to whip Gilas into shape for the Fiba Asia Championship in Manila.
“Personally, I want to see how the future of Philippine basketball will fare against taller and tough opponents,” said Reyes, referring to Aguilar, Fajardo and Slaughter. “I was very pleased because the three of them acquitted themselves very well.”
Meanwhile, Sharks’ owner and former NBA star Yao Ming said the only way for the Philippines to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro is to bring towering China to its knees in the Fiba Asia Championship finals.
China had clinched the only continental seat since the 1984 Summer Games in Los Angeles. The exception was in the 2008 Beijing Olympics when Iran won the berth. China was given an automatic Olympic slot as host nation.
“I have to reconsider whether or not to give this suggestion: You have to beat Team China first,” Yao said through an interpreter.
GILAS 80—David 14, Fajardo 11, Norwood 11, Aguilar 11, Lanete 10, Chan 9, Garcia 8, Douthit 2, Ganuelas 2, Slaughter 2, Alas 0, J. Pascual 0, R. Pascual 0.
SHARKS 72—Zhang 17, Lingyuan 14, Ligang 11, Yang 9, Sizhang 8, Laing 6, Yuan 3, Yang 2, Yi 2.
Quarters: 20-14, 43-30, 71-52, 80-72.