Gilas starts steep trek back to contention, clashes with Qatar
For a brief time in the Philippines’ eventual loss to Jordan in the 19th Asian Games (Asiad) on Saturday, Gilas showed grit and poise in overhauling a 12-point halftime deficit and even forcing a pair of deadlocks in the third quarter.
There was no reframing the eventual 87-62 loss that night that was felt all the way back home, but national coach Tim Cone is using those fleeting moments to fuel the belief that the Nationals are capable of taking down a seasoned Falcons squad replete with World Cup veterans should that chance present itself again.
“With Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and John Bohannon, Jordan was quite strong. We knew we were in for a battle with them. We stayed with them through three quarters, but just couldn’t sustain our effort into the fourth (quarter),” Cone told the Inquirer on Sunday.
“We’d love to have another shot at them, however, but we have to earn our way back to the Finals to see them again,” he added.
And that will take a lot of doing, with Cone and his charges—to force that scenario—needing to go through the proverbial eye of the needle.
“That means we have to go the longer route through Qatar and then Iran,” he said. “And then possibly Korea or China. It’s not an easy route, but we are confident we can get past Qatar.”
Game upgrade needed
Tip-off against Qatar is at 4 p.m., with the Philippines needing no less than an upgrade of its outing last Saturday.
Gilas registered its worst shooting performance in these Games during that loss, converting only 33 percent from the field.
It was hardly a balanced effort either, with just seven players contributing and only Justin Brownlee and Scottie Thompson finishing with double-digit scores.
Calvin Oftana was alarmingly frosty as well, with the TNT gunner going zero-for-seven in nearly 29 minutes of action.
The Philippines will take the Zhejiang University Gymnasium floor as the favorite against Qatar, but Cone is trying to keep a cautious outlook against an enemy coming off a win over Indonesia.
“We just have to be careful not to get too far ahead of ourselves. Let’s land one plane at a time,” he said. “Qatar first.”
Cone has been reaching for shortsightedness even before the contingent left for China.
“The one thing I’ve learned as a coach over the years—and I wasn’t like this when I was younger—that again, you just land one plane at a time and you just aim for [what’s] right in front of you.” INQ