Norwood tells hurting Gilas: We can’t stop being proud
Gabe Norwood was still in a state of shock when he faced the media following Gilas Pilipinas’ early exit in the Fiba Olympic qualifying tournament after losing to New Zealand Wednesday night.
Norwood, the Philippine team captain, couldn’t hide his emotions as he spoke. His eyes were glassy and his face painted a picture of defeat.
“First off, I know it hurts for everybody. It pains me to be in this situation and I speak for the whole team. Just a tough process,” Norwood admitted. “New Zealand came out and played a hell of a game. Their guards played well, bigs played well and we just didn’t have any answers tonight at a time when we really needed them.”
“It hurts, but I also 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, and hopefully we continue to move forward with the Gilas program.”
As the buzzer sounded, Norwood huddled the team at center court as the semifinal-bound Kiwis continued their celebration on the floor.
“I’m usually good with words but I’m kind of at a loss for words. We didn’t expect to be in this situation. I just told them to be proud. We can’t stop being proud. We wear the flag across our chest and you know as badly as it hurts, we know the effort that we put in as well,” he said when asked what he told his teammates.
“And that’s the thing that probably hurts the most—how much work we put in, how much effort we put in tonight, and still come up short. That’s what hurts,” he added. “You know we’re a strong group, we all have really a lot of respect for one another on and off the court, and I think that’s what makes this even tougher: when you are that close, when you are that type of unit.”
Gilas’ loss couldn’t have been more painful as it happened at home. The Philippines’ journey to Rio came to a crashing halt, but for Norwood, it’s a mark of another beginning.
“We got a special group of players and this was a special experience. Hopefully, this is one of those things that we look back on and we say this was the beginning of something great.”