GIVE all the excuses you can make, but for Beau Belga, Team Pilipinas losing in its home court, sold out or closed-doors, is always unacceptable.
"Mahirap matalo sa home court mo. Baka paglabas mo ng Araneta, batuhin ka ng fans dyan, di ba?," he said after the Philippines' 92-81 victory over Qatar in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers on Monday.
The national team didn't really have the friendliest schedule going into the game.
Losing to Iran, 81-73, in Tehran last Thursday, the squad had to deal with a 12-hour delay on their flight back home and arrived Saturday morning. Even their scheduled Saturday afternoon practice was washed out as typhoon Ompong ravaged Metro Manila, leaving them with only one practice.
And without its famed "sixth man" in attendance inside the Big Dome, the home side and had a sluggish start and fell behind by 17 points early on.
"Tulad nga ng sinabi ni coach, inalat kami noong first half. Tapos hindi pa kami dumedepensa. So talagang sinabi namin sa isa't isa pagdating ng third quarter, hindi puwedeng ganoon kung gusto naming manalo," said Belga.
Team Philippines did rectify its mistakes and staged a killer third quarter to take an 11-point win and stay at third place of Group F with a 5-3 record.
"Everybody stepped up. Yun lang ang sinasabi lagi ni coach, na kailangan yung starters, yun ang magdi-dictate ng tempo. And noong third quarter, talagang nag-commit kami na dedepensa kami. We made easy baskets, nakaka-steal kami so naging madali at nagkaroon ng kumpyansa lahat. Pati yung second group, pagpasok, talagang depensa," said Belga, who finished with 11 points, six rebounds, and three assists in the victory.
"Sinabi ni Coach Yeng, lahat nage-effort, tapos kung ikaw nagre-relax ka, mahihiya ka sa sarili mo. Kaya talagang pinakita namin yung intensity at pinilit namin para makuha yung panalo today."