Gilas finally wins one in Europe, but Chot still desires improvements in Filipinos’ final three games before closing camp | Inquirer Sports
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Gilas finally wins one in Europe, but Chot still desires improvements in Filipinos’ final three games before closing camp

/ 05:30 AM July 03, 2023

Chot Reyes is all praises for Rhenz Abando (No.10) after showing great improvement.

Chot Reyes is all praises for Rhenz Abando (No.10) after showing great improvement. —FIBA.COM PHOTOS

Gilas Pilipinas finally has something to show for in its European training camp geared toward the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup and national coach Chot Reyes has seen something really pleasing while he continues to talk with a lot of caution.

“I was very pleased with how quickly we picked up the new things we worked on in practice,” Reyes said in a dispatch released by Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas after a 70-61 victory over Ukraine’s under-20 squad (early Sunday) which the Filipinos carved out with Scottie Thompson and Chris Newsome sitting out because of injuries.

It was the first win for the Philippines in three games in the Baltic states after losses to the national teams of Estonia and Finland in Tallinn last week.

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‘Poorest game’

Reyes was just as swift in saying that such development was incremental.

“Although we won this game, I still think that there were still a lot of defensive lapses. If I were to rate it, this is the poorest game we played since the start (of camp). I know this is the game that we won, but I thought there was a lot more to be desired,” he added.

Gilas worked on its conditioning and cohesion while playing the Estonians and Finns.

The Nationals, now holed up in Kaunas, Lithuania, have shifted their focus on their defense with the help of coach Virginijus Sirvydis, whom Reyes believes would be key as the program continues to plot for the global showcase here starting Aug. 25.

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“I like his philosophies defensively,” he said of the Lithuanian mentor and the father of former Detroit Pistons forward Deividas Sirvydis. “He’s the foundation of defense. Now, if we have other coaches who could give us other things we could do, then that’s just gonna help us moving forward.”

“The better our defense becomes, the better our offense becomes as well. If we defend really well, obviously that’s also gonna sharpen our offense,” Reyes added.

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Chot Reyes is all praises for Rhenz Abando (No.10) after showing great improvement.

Chot Reyes is all praises for Rhenz Abando (No.10) after showing great improvement. —FIBA.COM PHOTOS

Defensive improvement

As things continue to look up for Gilas as a squad, individual improvements have also become apparent—especially for Rhenz Abando, who showed the way in the win over the Ukrainians.

“His upside is tremendous,” Reyes said of the high-leaping swingman out of Letran. “He only needs to be able to defend the way we want to defend and to understand our offense, but as you can see, when he gets open, when he gets his opportunities? He’s a scorer—a very explosive scorer—and that’s very important for us.”

Gilas battled the young Blue and Yellow anew as of this writing on Sunday in a rematch that Reyes swears could only help the team’s development.

“We’re getting the benefit of the practice that we need. They’re a tall team, well-disciplined and well-coached. Whenever we get a chance to play against this kind of competition, it’s just going to make us better,” he said.

Gilas is scheduled to play at least two more games in Lithuania before heading back home for a short break.

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A pocket tournament in China is also being lined up for Reyes and his charges sometime in August.

TAGS: Basketball, Chot Reyes, FIBA, Gilas Pilipinas

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