GILAS Pilipinas players stayed proud of what the team displayed against France, seeing the result of the match as another step towards respectability in international competitions.
The Philippine national squad gave France a rough time before the Les Bleus secured a hard-earned 93-84 win before a packed crowd at the Mall of Asia Arena on Tuesday night that included president Rodrigo Duterte.
Marc Pingris and Ranidel De Ocampo, two pillars in the Gilas squad, praised the efforts of the team, despite coming out on the losing end of the Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament opener on Tuesday.
“Proud pa rin, masaya pa rin kasi binigyan natin ng magandang laban ‘yung number five sa buong mundo,” Pingris said, referring to the French squad.
“Dapat maging proud pa rin tayo dahil pinakita natin ‘yung galing natin,” said De Ocampo.
Pingris, considered as one of the heart and soul of the team, said the tight match is another proof that Gilas Pilipinas can excel in international competitions. The Philippines held a 30-20 lead in the first quarter before France slowly but surely chipped the deficit away before eventually coming out as winners.
“Ngayon, naramdaman din nila kung gaano kabangis ‘yung Gilas. Pero ‘yung third quarter, dun na naman uli tayo nalamangan. Sinabi ni coach paglabas namin, kailangan 100 percent ibigay niyo agad. Pero ganun talaga ang basketball,” said Pingris.
Pingris, whose father is French, felt it was a winnable game against the Les Bleus, save for some veteran experience put up by their opponents.
“Kaya naman natin basta wag lang bibitaw. ‘Yung speed natin, hindi talaga nila kaya. Alam kong matatangkad sila pero lagi kong sinasabi na ‘yung speed natin, hindi nila kaya. Siguro napagaralan na nila kami kaya nakabawi sila nung third quarter,” Pingris said.
Pingris said the hard-fought game bodes well to their chances against New Zealand on Wednesday.
“Masasabi nila na mahirap tayo talunin. Hindi tayo basta basta kalaban. Kahit maliit tayo, malalaki naman puso natin,” he said.
“Hindi lang sila (New Zealand), pati France pinakaba natin kahit papaano. Iiwan namin ‘tong laro na ‘to, kailangang mag-focus bukas. Kailangan pa ring magtrabaho,” Pingris said.