FOSHAN, CHINA - Don't bother telling Robert Bolick that he made quite an impression in his 2019 Fiba World Cup debut, Or that he proved to be one of only a few bright spots for Gilas Pilipinas in a terrible 108-62 loss to Italy on Saturday.
The PBA rookie doesn't take any pleasure from that.
"Talo kami eh," Bolick said when praised for his courageous stand against the Italians. "Kahit ano pa ginawa namin, talo pa rin kami. I won’t take that as a positive, I’ll leave that to the people, I’ll leave that to you guys but for me, I just wanna win.
"This is for our country, this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and we have to go out and play better. Kaya pa naming maglaro ng mas mataas pa doon eh," he added.
In a horror debut game where Gilas veterans both soft, timid and tentative, Bolick and fellow rookie CJ Perez were irrerevent and fearless.
Bolick, for one, got his shot blocked the first time he took the ball to the basket. But that didn't stop him from attacking the lane the next trip down the floor. He finished with six points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.
His roommate Perez was just as courageous as he attacked the lane with impunity and finished with a team-high 15 points.
The rookie pair's irreverence and fighting qualities should come in handy in Monday night's must-win match against world No. 4 Serbia, which is favored not only to top Group D but go all the way with a star-studded lineup led by Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic.
But don't tell that to Bolick, who sees Serbia not as an opponent to fear but a giant to take down.
"Serbia is one of the best (teams in the world), so why not take them down," the former San Beda star said. 'Bilog ang bola. So long as you play with heart, everybody can make an upset."
"Grabe and preparation ng aming mga coaches, but we let them down [in the game against Italy]. So we just got to come back and play hard for our country and our coaches as well. They deserve to see a good game from us."
Trying to stay with the Serbians won't cut it, the intrepid rookie said.
"Hindi kami pupunta dito bukas na ia-accept na talo na, na idikit lang namin," he said. "We have to win, we have to give our best, and as long as we give our best, we’ll accept that.
"I think tomorrow we’ll play a better game. I think we’re gonna shock them"