Azkals relate to PH 5 heartbreak, gain motivation for duel vs Syria
BACOLOD CITY—Still trying to catch his breath after training, national team midfielder Mike Ott’s first question to a member of the Azkals’ staff on Wednesday night was the result of Gilas Pilipinas’ game against Angola in China.
Told that the men’s basketball team had lost the game in overtime in the Fiba World Cup, Ott’s shoulders dropped as he shook his head to express his disappointment.
The Azkals understand Gilas’ predicament and the difficulty of dealing with defeats, especially heartbreaking ones.
“They (Gilas) were so close to winning,” Ott said on the eve of the Azkals’ clash with Syria at the start of their World Cup Qualifying campaign. “It’s not like they didn’t do everything they can to win. Sometimes, playing high-pressure games is just tougher especially when you represent the country.”
Team captain Stephan Schrock said the Azkals are using the Gilas losses as motivation. After the duel with Syria on Thursday night, the Azkals travel to Guam on Tuesday.
“Definitely, we’re more motivated,” Schrock said. “We’re all united when we represent the country even when we’re playing different sports.”
Criticism on national teams can be harsh, but Azkals manager Dan Palami insists that’s just part of the responsibility of representing the nation.
“But what most people don’t understand is the sacrifice that most national players do for the country,” Palami said. “Players take time off their families or from their clubs and that’s something that most people should respect. The athletes’ love for the country can never be measured.”
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