GILAS Pilipinas suffered a second straight blowout loss in Europe early Sunday morning (Manila time) in the run-up for its campaign in the Manila leg of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
But that hardly dented the fighting spirit of a team known for its battlecry ‘Laban Pilipinas! Puso!’
“Makukuha din namin yan, maniwala kayo,” said veteran forward Marc Pingris, who’s hardly anxious even after Gilas suffered a 106-70 defeat at the hands of Italy in its opening match in the four-nation pocket tournament at the Land Rover Arena (Paladozza) in the heart of Bologna.
The 36-point loss came on the heels of a similar setback the national team suffered against Turkey, 103-68, in a tune-up match in Istanbul prior to its Italian trip for the pocket meet.
In all, Gilas lost the two games by average margin of 35.5 points.
Although the belief of the 34-year-old Pingris with the team remains the same, he said Gilas needs to start playing as a unit if it wants to be in contention for the lone Olympic berth at stake in the July 5-10 tournament at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“Kailangan namin maglaro as a team talaga, di 'yung kanya-kanya. Di kami mananalo kapag ganun,” he said.
The Star Hotshot forward also felt Gilas played a bit tense against an Italian side that paraded three NBA players led by Danilo Gallinari and Andrea Bargnani, the seven-foot, former No. 1 overall draft by the Toronto Raptors in 2006.
“Hindi ko alam kung gigil masyado, pero malalaki talaga (yung kalaban),” noted Pingris, whose France-based father watched him play personally.
Gilas will next face FIBA Asia 2015 tormentor China at the end of the two-day tournament early Monday morning (Manila time) to cap its three-week training camp in Europe that also brought the team in the mountains of Kapernisi, Greece.
The nationals return home to the country by Tuesday.