TAIPEI - The concern on national coach Chot Reyes' face was understandable, after Gilas Pilipinas survived a tough stand by Japan, 100-85, in the 39th Jones Cup on Tuesday afternoon.
Ideally, Reyes had hoped to see his starters put away a winless Japan Under-24 side early, let the bench finish the job, and get enough rest for back-to-back games against South Korea and Lithuania.
Instead, Gilas allowed Japan to hang around until the final seven minutes of the game when Matthew Wright, Chris Standhardinger, Kiefer Ravena, Jio Jalalon and Mike Myers delivered the fiery windup that closed out the team's third win in four games here.
While pleased with another grind-out win, Reyes was worried that he was forced to once again over-extend his starters ahead of back-to-back games he described as the 'meat of our chedule.'
"Right now, my concern is Korea. We were hoping to rest more guys today and have them fresh for Korea, but we needed to play some players extended minutes (to pull this off)," said Reyes.
"I think we're approaching the meat of our schedule. We got Korea then Lithuania back-to-back, so that's going to be a huge mountain for us to climb."
Standhardinger had 22 points and 15 rebounds to pace Gilas, but was again forced to play for 28 minutes. Wright played more than 25 minutes off the bench while Ravena spent more than 22 minutes on the floor.
It could've been worse, but Von Pessumal stepped up to hit two early three-pointers to give RR Pogoy a breather while Fonso Gotladera played a solid three minutes in his Jones Cup debut, giving import Myers (17 points, 17 rebounds) a breather.
"It's our fourth game in four days, some guys had to step up,' said Ravena. "Some guys who hadn't played much for our team are stepping up like Von Pessumal who gave us two three-pointers in the first half. If not for that, it would've been a different story."
Reyes said: "The minutes of Gotladera, I felt, were four solid minutes. We didn't want to extend Mike Myers and Chris Standhardinger. Myers ended up playing only 22 minutes but that was because Gotladera was able to give us four minutes.
"These are the little things that factor in a tournament like this."
With Rayray Parks' ankle sprain slow to heal, Reyes plans to keep digging into his 17-man rotation as he carefully spreads the minutes in a back-breaking nine-game, nine-day stretch.
"If we were playing with six, seven players in a short rotation, may be we'll be playing much better. But you play every day, you really have to spread the minutes," the multi-titled coach said.
"Our focus right now is to just have enough energy for Korea."