IT is becoming much more obvious now that Gilas Pilipinas has a lot of catching up to do in the international game, according national team mainstay Ranidel de Ocampo.
Speaking after the Philippine team suffered its fourth straight loss in the buildup to the Fiba World Cup, De Ocampo admitted 40 years of absence from world-caliber tournaments is too much.
The Philippines, which last competed in the world championships in 1978, needs to make up a lot of ground, added the Talk 'N Text star.
The Best Player of the recent PBA Governors’ Cup stressed that matches against competition-toughened national teams like France, Australia and Ukraine simply exposed Gilas’ weaknesses.
“Madaming lessons and lahat important kasi iba din kapag 40 years kang wala sa eksena,” De Ocampo told Spin.ph. “Kailangan palagi tayong kasali sa world stage para makasanayan na natin ang mga kalaban.”
The sweet-shooting forward said the team’s recent participation in a pocket tournament in Antibes, France gave them a better feel of what it is like to play against teams with contrasting styles.
“Sa three games sa Antibes, natutunan naming makalaban ang konti lang ang shooters, meron naman average lang at meron dun pure shooters,” he added.
Gilas stumbled to a 0-3 record in the four-nation pocket tournament, bowing to France (75-68), Australia (97-75), and Ukraine (114-64) in the worst-ever beating suffered by Gilas under national coach Chot Reyes.
The Nationals resumed its preparations on Tuesday and absorbed a 66-75 defeat at the hands of Euskadi in San Sebastian, while losing speedy guard Jason Castro to a suspected Achilles tendon injury.
Gilas forward Marc Pingris said being the shortest team in the world championships, the Filipinos will have to find ways to compete.
“Sa totoo lang ang hahaba talaga nila (European opponents) kasi sa rebound pa lang, talo na talaga tayo,” explained Pingris.
“Sa bilis na lang namin dinadaan pero mabibilis din sila kaya sinasabi ni coach, laban lang kahit na ano mangyari,” he added.