A FORMER national coach said Gilas Pilipinas has put itself in an uncomfortable position after the stunning loss to Fiba Asia Championship first-timer Palestine, but insisted all is not lost.
“You don’t start a tournament with a loss. That’s bad,” said Joe Lipa, a longtime coach of the national team who led an all-Filipino side led by Samboy Lim and Allan Caidic to a bronze medal in the 1986 Asian Games in Seoul.
“As much as possible, you want to start on a high note especially that one, Palestine is a heavy underdog, tapos tinalo tayo.”
Lipa explained the loss to an unrated team like Palestine will certainly raise the morale of Gilas’ future opponents, something that must be immediately addressed by coach Tab Baldwin with a big bounce back in the game against Hong Kong on Wednesday morning.
Gilas rounds out its prelims stint against Kuwait on Friday.
“Alam mo yung mga kalaban mo, magkakaroon ng tiwala (sa sarili), kasi kung kaya ‘kang talunin ng underdog, maniniwala sila na kaya ka rin nilang talunin,” said Lipa, who also led the University of the Philippines to its only UAAP championship.
“I think it’s a wake-up call. We need to win against Hong Kong and we should win convincingly, that’s what we need to regain our confidence,” he added. “Kayang-kaya na Hong Kong niyan, bubugbugin na natin tiyak ang Hong Kong niyan, ‘wag lang mag-overconfidence.”
Meanwhile, former national youth team manager Joel Lopa warned the loss to Palestine has raised serious complications for a Gilas team that needs to top Group B to have the easiest path to the knockout rounds.
“As much as possible, you always want to be on the top, kasi when you go to the crossover, yung nasa top ng group mo, you play with the weakest team of the other group first,” said Lopa.
“Ang main aim kasi natin dito (sa prelims) is to avoid - and delay as long as you can - in encountering the top teams China, South Korea and Iran,” he said.
“Yung talo na yun… mabigat yun. Pero okay pa rin dahil isang talo pa rin, pero must win na sila sa lahat!”
Lipa can only hope that Palestine would lose its next two games in the preliminaries so it won’t complicate things for the Philippines.
“Ang asahan natin dyan, wag namanalo ang Palestine, para makabalik tayo sa number one,” he said of the Philippines, which was a favorite to top group B prior to the start of the tournament.
“Expected number one tayo dyan eh, kung di tayo magna number one because of the quotient system, malaking suntok sa atin ‘yun. If we don’t become number one, nakakatakot ‘yan heading into the classification round.
The Philippines needs to beat Hong Kong and Kuwait in its last two games in the first round, before group mixes up with the top three teams from group A.
“Kailangan nating pumuwesto sa ibabaw - hindi lang sa Group B, kundi sa next round. Dahil mararamdaman natin yan pag nag-seeding at pairing na ng kalaban yan sa csecond round,” Lipa said.