GILAS Pilipinas turned to its bench when its starters couldn’t get it going early in the 90-83 win over Chinese Taipei over Monday night in the qualifring for the 2019 Fiba World Cup.
Even so, three bench players in Allein Maliksi, Kevin Alas, and Troy Rosario didn’t get to see action as the Filipino cagers completed a sweep of their two games in the first window of the qualifiers.
Their sacrifice certainly didn’t go unnoticed by teammates like Matthew Wright, who helped spark the late salvo by knocking down a handful of treys.
“We did what we had to do, everyone put their ego and pride aside, we made the winning plays, the second unit gave a lot of great energy,” Wright said.
“In the fourth quarter, we were finally able to create some distance and finally made some free throws, which we've been struggling (with), even in Japan. That's a focal point there that we have to focus on, but we won, we went 2-0 and we accomplished what we set out to do,” the Phoenix gunner added.
With Wright finding his mark, fellow gunner Maliksi didn’t get a chance to pull the trigger and see action in both games, while Rosario and Alas played sparingly against Japan.
Still, Gilas coach Chot Reyes credited them for making the sacrifice like Andray Blatche, who sat on the bench when he was struggling, in turn being an inspiration to the team.
“We got guys that didn't get an opportunity to play today, but they were the guys that I approached immediately after the ball game, and they just need to stay ready,” Reyes said. “Like Matthew said, there are no egos, there is no pride in this team, they just come in and play.”
“Same thing with Andray, if we feel that the team is going to be better with him on the bench, that's no problem with him. When he's on the bench, he's gonna be ready to come right back in, and contribute,” he added. “That's the kind of culture that we're building, that we’ve built in this team.”