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Gilas must not be a national nightmare

/ 05:02 AM September 04, 2019

Gilas Pilipinas suffered a brutal and shameful beating from Italy, but Malacañang outdid itself and said the national squad should be commended for a display of grace and flashes of brilliance.

There was nothing to be genuinely glad about the national team’s first two games in the Fiba World Cup in China, where it suffered back-to-back losses of over 50 points.

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Naturalized reinforcement Andray Blatche readily owned up after the opening day loss and cried, “I owe better to all of you.”

Truth is President Duterte, who had warned ahead of an impending massacre, showed up in the Philippine dugout to rally the Nationals to do battle at their mighty best.

Thank you, but Gilas responded by playing flat and displaying worst form.

The morning after the disaster against Italy, Pinoy fans were all shaking their heads in dismay.

It’s odd but, as expected, the shameful defeats also led into an instant diagnosis of national basketball ills.

Rued national coach Yeng Guiao: “They have size and quickness, with guards that can check our bigs, and bigs that can man our guards. They moved the ball really well, they kept switching us.”

Italy shot 58.2 percent from the field, making 15 of 31 3-point tries. Gilas, on the other hand, missed its first 17 3-point attempts, and converted 3 of 23 en route to the Philippines’ most hideous showing in world basketball.

There was a shot of an Italian player openly yawning on the bench in the third quarter.

Next there were taunts and questions on how and why the Philippines, the way it had fumbled and floundered, ended up playing on the elite global stage.

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There were also those who took everything in stride, saying this was a timely reality check for Philippine basketball.

To top it all, coach Guiao had claimed Gilas would be ready with its sharp outside guns, coupled with tough hustling defense.

The overwhelming hype on the Gilas squad also led ordinary fans to stand up and wait, hoping for at least a proud fighting stand from the Philippine side—“Laban Pilipinas, Puso!”

It didn’t take a full half against Italy to expose that the qualities ticked off by the Philippine coaching staff were pure fiction.

The end result of a shallow and sick national basketball program—granting there’s one—saw the national team ending up as a primetime disaster.

Once again, there’s this tired call for reform and renewal.

There’s urgent need for re-direction.

The Gilas Philippine basketball team can’t stay indefinitely as a national nightmare.

There’s news that national beanpole Kai Sotto has grown another inch taller.

But, before everything else, they should borrow some common sense from Mr. Duterte before plunging into the next Gilas national team venture.

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TAGS: Basketball, Fiba World Cup, Gilas
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