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Bare Eye

Was Gilas slump a necessity?

/ 04:00 AM November 16, 2019

It was not a simple slip or a mere off-night that caused the Gilas national basketball team to fall against San Miguel Alab at Meralco Gym on Monday.

Gilas was clearly beaten. The Philippine national team was caught on a slump as it suffered its first defeat since it was formed.

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The national team, which defends the SEA Games basketball title next month, played sloppily in stretches thereby leading former Gilas head coach Chot Reyes to make some harsh observations. Reyes had been quoted by SPIN.ph as saying Gilas performed way below its stature.

Chot Reyes had given the Gilas squad its brightest moments in international competition.

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A big jolt even before the tournament proper could start? Or was it a timely wake-up call?

It happened in the two-game friendly between Gilas and the Alab squad that competes in the Asean Basketball League.

For the record, Gilas beat Alab in the first of their two friendly matches, 93-89. Then Alab struck back, taking the second match, 98-95. It was a tight match, but Alab proved tougher in the closing minutes.

National team coach Tim Cone, who has been telling his men never to behave as though they’re members of an all-star squad, swore he hated losing.

Gilas is scheduled to play Taiwan next week.

The 2019 Gilas squad is clearly one of the strongest Philippine national teams assembled for the biennial SEA Games basketball supremacy race, which the country has been dominating.

It used to be Malaysia that crowded the Philippines in the championship. Indonesia, which battled (and lost) the Philippines in the past two championships, is again touted to provide a challenge to the Philippines this year.

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Indonesia is now being coached by internationalist Rajko Toroman, who had coached Gilas before. Indonesia has reportedly trained in Serbia, but it’s not clear if they’re fielding a foreign reinforcement in the Manila campaign.

A change in pairings will now fit Gilas against Singapore for the basketball series opener at Mall of Asia. Malaysia was the Philippines’ original opening-day opponent.

This early, majority of local basketball enthusiasts feel it could be a breeze for Gilas in the SEA Games championship.

But taking from the startling result against Alab on Monday, coach Cone said there’s need for better adjustments.

He said Gilas played tired on Monday, and they will be competing in the SEA Games almost daily.

“They did a lot of things that we were not prepared for,” Cone said of the Alab squad.

“They did a good job on our pick and roll, they beat us down the floor,” he added.

Cone, on his second stint as Philippine national team mentor, swore they’ve got to do better.

“We’ve got to go down stronger defensively.”

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