YENG Guiao was not too happy with Team Pilipinas' performance in the squad's 74-68 defeat to Lebanon on Friday that he even called out two of his main cogs on what he felt was a subpar performance from them.
"I think June Mar (Fajardo) can play better than that, and I think Jayson Castro can play better than that," the outspoken mentor said.
Fajardo mustered nine points in the game, but at times, looked sluggish on defense against his towering counterparts down low, none more evident than a missed rebound in the final minute which could have given the home team a chance to steal the game.
Castro, meanwhile, went scoreless in the affair and looked far from what everyone knows as the best point guard in Asia. He even muffed a pair of free throws when the Philippines was making a belated run in the endgame.
Those showings, coupled with the Nationals' ever-present problem of starting slow and desperately recovering in the second half, left Guiao hardly pleased.
Staples of the national team for so long, Fajardo and Castro knew better to take responsibility for their shortcomings.
"Medyo hindi pa kami masyado nagkakaintindihan sa depensa. Sabi nga ni coach, kailangan namin i-polish yun," said Fajardo, the four-time PBA MVP who is still finding his rhythm after going on a lengthy layoff due to a fractured right shin.
"Thankful ako kay coach Yeng na nabibigyan niya ako ng minutes at tiwala para makuha ko yung confidence ko at yung rhythm ko. Kailangan ko gantihan yun. May next game pa naman so kailangan ko mag-perform pa ng maayos."
For his part, the TNT slasher also understood Guiao's frustrations and vowed to make up for his miscues on the second tuneup game against Lebanon on Sunday.
"Part naman ng game yun. Next time, bawi na lang siguro," he said. "Sobrang sama ng start namin, so kailangan namin ma-fix yun. At the same time, kailangan maka-adapt kami sa physicality para maipakita namin yung aggressiveness namin sa defense."
Both Fajardo and Castro, though, opted to stick to the positives as they see the chemistry now forming with this group.
That's welcome news, especially with only a little over a week remaining before the fifth window of the 2019 Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers.
"Maganda na ang nangyayari ngayon compared nung simula," said Castro. "Mas malayo na kami ngayon kasi yung first game namin, nagkakapaan pa at yung chemistry, wala pa. Pero this time, medyo nandoon na. Hopefully, sa totoong game versus Kazakhstan at Iran, maging fluid talaga yung offense namin and then yung defense namin, makapag-adjust."
Fajardo agreed, saying, "Sana tuloy-tuloy lang yung improvement namin."