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    Norwood hopes PH team thrives under mounting pressure ahead of crucial Iran game

    Dec 1, 2018
    PHOTO: jerome ascaño

    GABE Norwood's worst fears came to fruition on Friday as a listless Team Pilipinas delivered a dud, losing to Kazakhstan, 92-88, in their clash in the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.

    The Philippines' unimpressive showings in the tuneup games against Jordan and Lebanon materialized in this game as the hosts struggled to get things going with the obvious lack of chemistry couldn't be more evident.

    "Definitely, it's just frustrating," he said, pointing out Gilas' inability to adjust on the defensive end as the visitors lit it up from downtown going 12-of-23 for the game. "Their bigs came out and shot the ball pretty well and we just, for whatever reason, could not make the right adjustments."

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      It was a humbling experience, debilitating even, that a team as favored as the Philippines blew its chances and bow to Kazakhstan.

      The enormity of the situation gets more magnified given the pool's inability to hurdle this challenge, especially after all the fanfare rained down upon them, with some even calling it as the best collection of talent the country has ever seen.

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      Despite all of those talks, Norwood has been clear cut from the get-go on the task this group has on their hands.

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      "I still don't know where all of those talk started, but we got to get it done. It's nice to hear those things, but at the same time, we got to perform and get things done," he said.

      And the team captain is confident that everyone in the pool understands the gravity of the challenge presented to them, especially with the remaining three games in the Asian qualifiers seen as must-win games.

      "If they don't feel that pressure, they shouldn't be here. I think the whole team knows the gravity of our situation and we all knew what we want to accomplish once we wore these colors," he said as the squad shifts its focus against Iran on Monday. "We still control our own fate, but at the end of the day, we must find a way to get it done. That's the challenge that is set in front of us, and hopefully as competitors and professionals, we accept that and make the most out of it."

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      "That's the beauty of basketball and I think this is the best team game in the world, that now we can be humbled and go back to work and I think everybody will get a little bit more locked in to get on the same page."

      Asked what kind of Team Pilipinas fans would see on Monday, Norwood vowed: "A lot of fight, a lot of heart, and we're gonna leave it all out there on the floor."

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      PHOTO: jerome ascaño
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