A day after men tumble, Gilas women take 21-point humbling | Inquirer Sports
ANOTHER BLOW

A day after men tumble, Gilas women take 21-point humbling

/ 05:20 AM May 13, 2023

Jack Animan Gilas Pilipinas Women SEA Games 2023

–CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Ariya Kurniawan | Instagram @ariyakurniawan16

Even with the sub-par playing floor, the heat and officiating, Pat Aquino was quick to not make excuses.

“They got us in the third quarter, simple as that,” Aquino told the Inquirer over the phone, minutes after his Gilas Pilipinas women took an 89-68 whipping at the hands of heavily-reinforced Indonesia to practically bow out of the gold medal race in the 32nd Southeast Asian Games in Cambodia.

“We weren’t making our shots from the perimeter, and they (Indonesians) did,” Aquino said. “They wanted it more this time around.”

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It was just the first loss in three games for the Filipinos, but Aquino is not entertaining wild thoughts of still salvaging the title owing to the tournament format of a single round play that awards the gold to the country with the best record.

“They have just two games left,” Aquino said as Indonesia battles Cambodia and Singapore to round out its schedule. “And let’s be honest about it, those are very weak teams.”

The Filipinos, meanwhile, still have games against Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia left.

“I told my players that there is nothing to be ashamed of, no matter how this tournament ends for us,” he said. “I am very proud that they never gave up.”

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The defending champions had very few answers to an unbeaten Indonesian side that caught fire in the third period, ultimately going down at Morodok Techo National Stadium in Phnom Penh.

Janine Pontejos led the Philippines with 11 points, while Chack Cabinbin chipped in 10.

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Yuni Anggraeni had 24 points built on a highly-efficient shooting for Indonesia, while naturalized player Kimberley Pierre Louis tossed in 20 points and 15 rebounds.

“Of course, the prospect of relinquishing your throne is tough, painful,” Aquino said. “But seeing my players give it their all, not giving up, is the very essence why we play this game, the very essence of playing for our country.”

Bounce back game

Gilas Pilipinas in the SEA Games 2023. –CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Ariya Kurniawan | Instagram @ariyakurniawan16

Gilas Pilipinas in the SEA Games 2023. –CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/Ariya Kurniawan | Instagram @ariyakurniawan16

That leaves the burden of taking home a basketball gold on the Gilas men, who will try to put behind their stunning loss when they battle lightweight Singapore Saturday.

A win in the 2 p.m. game (Manila time) will not only ease some of the pain of a 79-68 loss to Cambodia on Thursday but seal a place in the Final Four for the Filipinos.

With an expected win over the Singaporeans, the Filipinos win will seal a clash with the No. 1 team in Group B in the semifinals, which will likely be defending champion Indonesia.

National coach Chot Reyes is making sure Justin Brownlee regains his optimal playing shape and the rest of his crew get their act together.

“You know, we’re not a one-man team. The others should pick up the slack and that’s what I told the guys after the (loss),” he said.

“We missed a ton of layups and a ton of free throws. If we cleaned those up—the things we normally make—then even with Justin struggling, we would’ve made it a closer ball game,” he added.

Shooting woes

The Philippines bowed to a Cambodian side heavily reinforced by Americans, but more than the disparity in the naturalized players, Gilas actually shot poorly during that tension-filled clash that doomed Reyes and his charges.

“[The loss is] something we can learn from. We move on to the next game, then we prepare for the knockout semifinals,” Reyes said.

Gilas was 28-for-76 from the field and were even more horrendous from three-point range, going 5-for-20. Not helping was an equally frosty outing from the charity stripe, where the Nationals converted only seven of their total 16 tries.

Compounding the Philippines’ woes was Brownlee’s dehydration, which had the do-it-all forward cramping just when it was trying to mount a comeback.

Already a weapon short without Calvin Oftana—who hurt his calf also by slipping on the makeshift flooring—Gilas was forced to play catch up for most of the contest.

A win will seal a clash with the No. 1 team in Group B in the semifinals, which will likely be defending champion Indonesia.

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Reyes was not too keen on making a big deal out of the playing conditions at the Cambodian capital, which led to Brownlee’s episode and even to Chris Newsome slip. But stacked upon each other, those little issues eventually kept his charges from playing to their full potential.

“We couldn’t get to our spots quicker. We couldn’t take advantage of our quickness that much,” he said. “But like I’ve said we’re all playing under the same conditions. I’m not here to make excuses.”

TAGS: Cambodia SEA Games, Gilas Pilipinas

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