Could Gilas be ready with its heart?
THAT, indeed, was a tremendous improvement displayed by the Gilas Pilipinas team against Turkey, which had previously massacred our national basketball team by 35 points (103-68) in Istanbul nearly two weeks ago.
Gilas Pilipinas bowed to Turkey, 84-76, at Mall of Asia on Friday night.
As could only be expected, there readily rose hopes the improvement could also help lead to a win by the Nationals in the Manila Olympic Qualifying Tournament that starts at the MOA on Tuesday, July 5.
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One question that needs to be readily addressed though is whether or not Gilas Pilipinas could report to the Olympic qualifier with its old trusted heart: Puso!
There were glowing reports on a colorful, gutsy stand by the Nationals in its rematch against Turkey, particularly that sensational stretch when the 17-pt. bumper by the visitors was reduced to only six points, 51-57, late in the third quarter.
It’s a pity, cried many excited fans. There would be louder screams of hope after daredevil Terrence Romeo led a solo uprising to push Gilas close again by six points, 68-72, a minute left in the game.
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There indeed was great thrill. But what predictably got overlooked were the soft, shaky spots in the Gilas Pilipinas game, including the 11 misses from the foul line.
There were fierce all-out efforts, but these were overshadowed by many shallow, tentative stands, silly turnovers.
In fact, LA Tenorio, who got cut from the line-up proper together with the celebrated Calvin Abueva, had to voice out from the Gilas bench his wish for the national squad to be lot steadier next time.
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Could Gilas Pilipinas recover fully and be as good as its whole fighting self again after a three-day break before its meeting with the French national squad, headed by NBA sensation Tony Parker?
Let’s all hope and pray it does, because there was also this observation that this Gilas Pilipinas squad on Friday did show up with heart but, sorry, that Puso! could at best be only half as pure as the original patriotic dynamo that carried the national squad in the Olympic qualifier in Hunan, China, last year.
“Yes, it’s truly a pity that Abueva was not there,” said Enard, the well-meaning car-aircon expert who had earlier protested the junking of the Alaska team star from Gilas. “Siya sana ang babantay sa dominant guard ng opposing team. The reason nga ‘Puso, Laban Pilipinas’ is our slogan. Paano yung pinakamalaki at tunay na palaban ang puso tinanggal nila.”
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