GILAS Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes stuck to the positives after his team’s 84-68 loss to Australia in their Fiba World Cup qualifying match on Thursday in Melbourne.
Facing an elite national team that’s 21 spots above them in the world rankings, the Filipinos managed to keep in step with the Australians in the early goings, even taking a five-point lead in the second quarter before seeing the Boomers stamp their class and pull away in the second half.
“I thought we had a good start,” Reyes said in the postgame conference. “We came into this ball game with eyes wide open. We had no illusions facing a very strong, tough Aussie team which is (ranked) tenth in the world.”
“All we wanted to do is to compete, and I felt we were able to do that, we competed, we competed hard,” he was quick to add.
“We can’t complain on [our] effort,” he continued. “Our game could’ve been better but our effort is there. We thought at least we’ve accounted well for ourselves to compete against this Boomers squad.”
Reyes, though, rued another grueling schedule that will see them play their second game in four days, hosting Japan on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena. A long, eight-hour flight back home sandwiches the two games.
“It’s hard coming to the ballgames when you’re also thinking of the next game,” Reyes said. “Cause as you all know, we have a long trip ahead of us to go back home and play Japan in two days. That was in the back of my mind the whole game.”
“So as much as we want to go all out for the victory, we also had to make sure we’re managing minutes because we know we’re gonna need fresh legs when we play Japan,” he added. “They’re just coming from Tokyo which is a three-hour flight as against ours.”
At least the Filipino cagers will be playing in front of an expected raucous crowd that will give them a psychological boost in their bid to solidify their hold on the second spot in Group B, where one of the four teams will be eliminated.
“The good thing is we’ll be playing at home and we’re hoping to get adrenaline from home crowd to compensate for the fatigue this long fight is going to cost us Sunday,” Reyes said.