Gilas Pilipinas shifts focus to Japan
Gilas Pilipinas may have just waltzed into Australia with a mental focus split in two.
Head coach Chot Reyes was aware that the Philippines were facing the no. 10 team in the Fiba world rankings, but he admitted that Gilas also thought of their next opponents in Japan.
“All we wanted to do was compete, compete hard, and we did that,” said Reyes in a post-game press conference after their 84-68 loss. “But it’s hard coming into the ball game when you’re also thinking of the next game.”
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The Philippines, which slipped to 2-1 in Group B, will face Japan next in Mall of Asia Arena on Sunday and that was what bugged Gilas during their game at Melbourne’s Margaret Court Arena.
“We have a long trip ahead of us and we have to play Japan,” said Reyes. “So as much as we want to go all out for the victory, we also had to make sure we were managing minutes because we know we’re gonna need fresh legs against Japan.”
The Philippines already beat Japan, 77-71, back in November in Tokyo but will now host the Japanese for the second leg.
Andray Blatche and June Mar Fajardo were the two Gilas players who spent the most time on the floor with more than 25 minutes under their name while Kevin Alas and Matthew Wright both played 22 minutes.
Reyes added that he “can’t complain about the effort” of his team, which is ranked no. 31 in the world.
The Philippines held ground early in the second quarter with a 30-25 lead but ultimately crumbled against Australia’s pressure with the Boomers going on a 12-2 run to finish the half and taking a 37-32 lead heading into the break.
“Our game could’ve been better but the effort was there,” said Reyes. “We thought, at least, we’ve accounted well for ourselves to compete against this Boomers squad.”
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