I have to admit, I feel my heart break ever so slightly every time I see news of the Gilas boys being defeated. Ive been a close follower and ardent supporter of the Philippine NT ever since I first watched the San Miguel-centric, Norman Black-coached, National Team lose a close one to the hometown Japanese in the bronze medal game of the 1994 Asian Games.
Now, nearly 20 years later, each loss still stings with the same poignancy.
On the flipside, however, is the fact that each setback also brings with it some lessons the team can use to get better. What follows are reposts of well-written articles by my fellow writer, Mr. Jude Roque, from Yahoo! Philippines. These posts detail the painful learnings our Gilas boys learned from their last two losses in the 2013 Dubai International Basketball tourney.
Al-Ahli Club (UAE) over SMART-Gilas Pilpinas, 97-82 No less than Smart Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes was the first to see the brighter side of the young national teams defeat 82-97 loss to home team Al-Ahli Club last Saturday here at the 24th Dubai International Basketball Championship.
We can learn a lot from this loss, which will help us in the more important games, said Reyes, who mysteriously lost his voice during the first quarter of the game. He had to write some key instructions on the coaching board during timeouts. After an inspiring 79-77 victory over the third best club team in Lebanon, Mouttahed Tripoli, the national squad composed of mostly amateur standouts, got its baptism of fire in international competition when it faced a very aggressive Emirates team. Al-Ahli won the Dubai Club Championship and is beefed up by American imports Cheikh Samb, Leroy Hurd and Leemire Goldwire.
This was the first time Gilas II played against a home team even when the venue was filled with cheering Pinoys.
Right from the get-go, Al Ahli surprised the young nationals with a pesky full-court press that resulted in 11 turnovers for Gilas in the first period alone. Al Ahli was up 26-18 after the first ten minutes. It was the first time that this team, which was assembled in less than two months, encountered a pressing team. Before the Dubai trip, the team only had a couple of tune-up games versus the visiting KL Dragons from Malaysia.
The trend continued in the second canto as Al Ahli went to its switching defense and aggressively denied all passing lanes. This too was a first time for the Gilas cadet team. Even PBA reinforcements KG Canaleta, Ronjay Buenafe and JayR Reyes, and naturalized import Marcus Douthit, struggled against the pesky defense of their opponents. The first half ended with the home team up, 51-32.
In the third period, Gilas went inside after going 4 out of 16 from beyond the arc in the first half. Douthit, Greg Slaughter and Canaleta were able to get some inside points to bridge the gap a little bit in the middle of the third. But 72 Al Ahli import Samb was an imposing figure in the middle, igniting several fast break opportunities for Al Ahli.
In the payoff quarter, Gilas went to its running game and tried to stage a late comeback, but Hurd and Goldwire would repeatedly quell the Philippines rally with hard-earned baskets. There were also some bum calls made by the referees against the visiting squad especially during the attempted comeback.
In the end, Gilas committed 24 turnovers that accounted for 24 points for Al Ahli. The victors also had 15 steals.
Gilas will still enter the quarterfinals despite the loss, and can possibly even top Group B if it defeats Al Riyadi of Jordan tonight. Mouttahed, the team Gilas beat last Friday, won over Al Riyadi Sunday, 81-76. Al Ahli lost to Al Riyadi on opening day.
Here are some valuable lessons from the loss to Al Ahli:
Playing under the spotlight. It seems that the newly formed cadet team succumbs to game jitters in the early goings especially when greeted by the loud and cheering crowd upon entering the court. In the Mouttahed game, Gilas fell behind, 3-18, in the opening period before catching fire in the second quarter to take a 41-40 lead. It was similar in the Al Ahli game except that Gilas turned over the ball too many times to catch its opponents. But this is understandable in the first few games. They should be able to handle this better in the next game.
Playing on hostile grounds. It was not really a home advantage for Al Ahli in terms of crowd support. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Filipinos make up the biggest crowd in this annual joust, which is why the Philippines gets invited regularly. But the unfamiliarity with the gym and the international game has its effects on the team. The officiating is different here from the PBA, D-League, and collegiate leagues in Manila even when they are all guided by the FIBA rules. Here, the officials are not intimidated by the players and coaches whom they see for the first time.
Playing against bigger opponents. In most cases, the Philippines will be the smaller team against teams from East and West Asia. Here in this tournament, the size disadvantage is further enhanced with the presence of towering imports like Samb. Al Riyadi of Lebanon likewise has 72 import Lauren Woods. Domestic players, especially from Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar and Iran, are not only tall, but hefty as well. Quickness, however, should be our advantage.
Playing everyday. In international competitions, games are played daily. These are usually short tournaments that last for a week, or two at most. This means that the team must get accustomed to playing everyday while still having the morning shoot-around and practice. Playing for flag and country is a tough job that allows very little rest.
But having stayed with this batch of Gilas for five days now, I have no doubt that the bitter taste of the defeat to Al Ahli will only make them stronger and more prepared for the coming crucial games.
Al-Riyadi Sporting Aramex (Jordan) over SMART-Gilas Pilipinas, 75-65 The Smart-Gilas Pilipinas cadet team suffered a second straight loss in the 24th Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Al Ahli gym in Dubai Monday, this time at the hands of Al Riyadi Jordan, 65-75.
The younger and smaller Philippine team fought gallantly throughout the game and had several chances to overtake the Jordanian club team in the game. But the dynamic duo of American imports Alpha Bangura and Darrin Dorsey proved too much for Gilas, which fell to third spot in Group B. Bangura, a former PBA import from Air 21, scattered 14 of his game-high 31 markers in the payoff period, dousing the attempted rally of Gilas late in the game.
But the Nationals are still in contention for the championship as they enter the quarterfinals versus the No. 1 club team in Lebanon Dubai Duty Free Al Riyadi Beirut, at 7:00 p.m. Dubai time.
Letran star Kevin Alas led Gilas in scoring with 12 points, followed by Matt Ganuelas with 11, Garvo Lanete with 10, and Marcus Douthit and Ronjay Buenafe with six apiece.
Riyadi led by as many as 15 points, at 59-44, in the fourth quarter. Gilas made a last ditch effort to make a comeback in the last five minutes of play and came to within six points, at 57-63, on four straight free throws by Douthit. But the Jordanians countered with a 6-0 blast to secure the win.
All teams will have a rest day today as the quarterfinals start on Wednesday at the Al Ahli gym.
Coach Chot Reyes met the team in his hotel room an hour after the game and talked about how each player should find the drive to uplift his game. The team will have a field trip to the desert safari later today as a team-building activity.
#PBA2016 Govs' Cup Roundup: July 23, 2016 - 1 day ago
Action in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup continued to heat up as Rain or Shine blew out Phoenix and TNT handed Meralco its first loss of the conference. Game Capsules (adapted from Interaksyon): TNT KA TROPA over MERALCO BOLTS, 98-95 The TNT KaTropa remained undefeated while handing sister team Meralco its first loss after a tough 98-95 decision in the 2016 Oppo PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum. Jayson Castro scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second... [read more]
Action in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup continued to heat up as Rain or Shine blew out Phoenix and TNT handed Meralco its first loss of the conference.
Game Capsules (adapted from Interaksyon):
TNT KA TROPA over MERALCO BOLTS, 98-95 The TNT KaTropa remained undefeated while handing sister team Meralco its first loss after a tough 98-95 decision in the 2016 Oppo PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Jayson Castro scored 16 of his game-high 24 points in the second half as he led his team to a second straight win.
He also posted seven rebounds and five assists as he engaged his old teammate Jimmy Alapag in an intriguing point guard battle. Alapag finished with 11 points and 12 assists in the contest.
TNT's imports, Mario Little and Michael Madanly, both added 14 points while rookie Kris Rosales chipped in with 13 markers. Little also grabbed 11 rebounds in the game.
Cliff Hodge led Meralco with 18 points, while import Allen Durham struggled with only 14 markers.
Lines of the Game: Jayson Castro (TNT) - 24pts, 7rebs, 5asts, 1blk, 2 triples. Allen Durham (MER) - 14pts, 14rebs, 5asts, 4blks.
RAIN OR SHINE ELASTO-PAINTERS over PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS, 106-89 The Rain or Shine Elasto Painters faced a huge task as they entered the fourth quarter trailing by nine but still ended up with a more than comfortable margin over Phoenix in the end, 106-89, in their 2016 Oppo PBA Governors' Cup clash on Saturday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Rain or Shine outscored Phoenix, 41-15, in a lopsided final period to blow their opponents out despite their earlier struggles.
Dior Lowhorn led the Elasto Painters with 26 points and 14 rebounds while JR Quinahan added 18 points, five rebounds and five assists.
Gabe Norwood also played a key role, scoring 11 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter. He made five of his six shot attempts, including all four of his three-pointers, as well as tallying four assists.
Phoenix drew a team-high 16 points from Norbert Torres, while Prince Caperal added 12 off the bench.
The 2016 PBA Governors' Cup kicked off last week with big wins from NLEX, Ginebra, Meralco, and Mahindra. Game Capsules (adapted from Interaksyon): NLEX ROAD WARRIORS over BLACKWATER ELITE, 96-90 NLEX import Henry Walker made a big impression in his PBA return, scoring 44 points to lead his Road Warriors past the gutsy Blackwater Elite, 96-90, in the PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena. Walker shot 15-for-25 (60-percent) from the field and 6-for-13 (46-percent) fr... [read more]
The 2016 PBA Governors' Cup kicked off last week with big wins from NLEX, Ginebra, Meralco, and Mahindra.
Game Capsules (adapted from Interaksyon):
NLEX ROAD WARRIORS over BLACKWATER ELITE, 96-90 NLEX import Henry Walker made a big impression in his PBA return, scoring 44 points to lead his Road Warriors past the gutsy Blackwater Elite, 96-90, in the PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Walker shot 15-for-25 (60-percent) from the field and 6-for-13 (46-percent) from three-point range in an impressive offensive showing for NLEX.
Kevin Alas and Mac Baracael each added 12 markers for the Road Warriors, while Jonas Villanueva added 11.
Walker immediately put the league on notice after scoring an incredible 24 of his team's 31 points in the first quarter. He sizzled from beyond the arc, hitting his first four three-point attempts and finished the period shooting 5-for-7 from beyond the arc.
The NLEX import's explosive start allowed his Road Warriors to lead by as many as 17 points in the first stanza.
Lines of the Game: Henry Walker (NLX) - 44pts, 6rebs, 2asts, 2stls, 6 triples, 15/25 FGs Eric Dawson (BLA) - 27pts, 17rebs, 3asts, 2stls, 4blks, 11/18 FGs
BGY. GINEBRA GIN KINGS over GLOBALPORT BATANG PIER, 93-81 The Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings, already missing star center Greg Slaughter, overcame an injury to import Paul Harris as they downed the GlobalPort Batang Pier, 93-81, in the PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Japeth Aguilar posted 21 points, six rebounds and two blocks to lead Ginebra while getting support from Sol Mercado (12 points), Chris Ellis (10 points), LA Tenorio (10 points) and Joe Devance (10 points).
Harris, who exited the game late in the third quarter with a broken right thumb, had 14 points, 10 rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
GlobalPort continued to battle throughout the game, but Tenorio proved steady from the free throw line as he helped Ginebra keep the margin up in the final minute.
Aguilar capped the victory with a big dunk in the endgame.
Pringle finished with 26 points, while Romeo added 15 markers.
MAHINDRA ENFORCERS over STAR HOTSHOTS, 100-92 The Mahindra Enforcers got off to a rousing start to their conference after outlasting the Star Hotshots in overtime, 100-92, in their PBA Governors' Cup opener last Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
22-year-old import James White bucked a slow start by scoring 18 of his 22 points in the second half and overtime, while Aldrech Ramos chipped in with 17 points for Mahindra.
The Enforcers' Asian import, Iranian Iman Zandi, also played a key role, going a perfect 5-for-5 from beyond the arc to finish with 15 points. Two other local players - KG Canaleta and Paolo Taha - finished in double figures.
Star's balik-import Marqus Blakely finished with 21 points, 15 rebounds and five assists in the defeat.
Mahindra started strong, largely on the strength of the performances of Zandi, who hit four three-pointers in the first half, and Ramos, who scored 10 markers.
Revilla made a big triple to open overtime and Ramos made a pair of free throws. Star's RR Garcia responded with a trey of his own, though, to keep things close, 92-90.
White and Allein Maliksi then traded baskets before Canaleta made a tough bank shot from the midrange to put again put some distance, 96-92, with 42 seconds left.
After a huge stop of the defensive end, Revilla all but sealed it with two free throws, 98-92, leaving just 23 seconds remaining on the game clock.
Lines of the Game: James White (MAH) - 22pts, 8rebs, 1blk, 10/18 FGs. Marqus Blakely (STA) - 21pts, 15rebs, 5asts, 2blks, 1stl.
MERALCO BOLTS over PHOENIX FUEL MASTERS, 108-103 Allen Durham bullied his way to a dominant outing while veteran point guard Jimmy Alapag provided some excellent support as Meralco took their PBA Governors' Cup opener, 108-103, over Phoenix on Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Durham finished with 32 points and 22 rebounds while Alapag had 15 points and team-high six assists to lead Meralco.
Jared Dillinger also finished with 15 points while Chris Newsome added 13. Cliff Hodge had 12 markers.
Phoenix import Marcus Simmons had 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Fuel Masters.
Phoenix's most recent acquisition, former Alaska guard Cyrus Baguio, was in uniform but did not play.
Lines of the Game: Allen Durham (MER) - 32pts, 22rebs, 5asts, 1stl, 1blk, 10/20 FGs. Marcus Simmons (PHX) - 21pts, 11rebs, 7asts, 3stls, 1blk.
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