CHANGSHA, China – The face of Gilas Pilipinas’ ‘puso’ battle cry was the first one to admit the team played without heart when it opened its campaign in the Fiba Asia Championship here.
And it took one heartbreaker for Gilas to regain at least a piece of it.
Marc Pingris, the energetic national team power forward, said the nationals needed to suffer that stunning loss to Palestine on Wednesday for them to play with renewed fervor.
That was on display when the team crushed Hong Kong by 51 points to even its Group B record at 1-1 (win-loss) and tie its victim at second spot behind unbeaten Palestine as of posting time.
“First game, aaminin namin wala ‘yung puso namin. Ngayon lang lumabas kung kailan nasugatan,” he said.
Fancied to get past Palestine, a newcomer in the biennial meet which the Philippines has already won five times, and top the group considered relatively the weakest in the tournament, Gilas fell against the Middle East first-timers when it suddenly went cold in the crucial stretch of the game going home.
Pingris said the demoralizing experience was a big lesson learned for the all-pro team of coach Tab Baldwin.
“Isang aral din sa amin 'yun na pagdating ng laro kailangan game face ka lagi,” said the Star Hotshots stalwart, one of four remnants of the Gilas team that finished runner-up to Iran during the Manila edition of the Fiba Asia held two years ago.
“Dito sa tournament na ito hindi ka dapat mag-lie low. Kailangan 100 percent ka kahit sino ang kalaban mo.”
The good thing about it, according to Ping, was the setback came the early part of the tournament and not during its crucial stage.
“Tulad nga ng sabi ni coach, may pagasa pa,” he said. “Yung talo namin kahapon, iwanan namin, pero at the same time, kailangan may natutunan kami.”