CHANGSA, China – Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin justified his decision to field in veteran Marc Pingris cold off the bench at the most crucial moment of the team’s heartbreaking 73-75 loss to Palestine in a shocking start to its campaign in the Fiba Asia Men’s Championship on Wednesday.
Th 6-foot-4 Pingris was fielded in the stretch run despite sitting out a huge chunk of the second half was primarily to counter the Palestinians’ dominance off the boards, Baldwin said.
“He (Ping) was put in there because we we’re being killed off the boards. So I put him and Del (Ranidel de Ocampo) to get rebounds with Andray (Blatche),” said Baldwin shortly before boarding the team bus on the way back to the hotel following the nationals’ stunning loss on opening day of the qualifier to the 2016 Rio Olympics at the Changsa Social Work Colleges gymnasium here.
The Palestinians went on a scoring rampage during that spell, uncorking a 13-1 blast to erase a 70-59 deficit and take a 71-72 lead with 1:34 left after two back-breaking three-pointers by Jamal Abu Shamala.
Gilas regained the lead on a Blatche basket, but Sani Sakakini completed a three-point play on a Dondon Hontiveros foul in the final 15 seconds to give the Palestinians the lead, 75-73 – and the win.
“From a tactical standpoint you make moves, but sometimes they don’t work. That’s the truth. You can’t ignore the trend of the game either,” said the 57-year-old Baldwin.
Palestine, making its first ever appearance in the Fiba-Asia, outrebounded Gilas, 58-53, and took a total of 83 shots, of which they made 27 of them.
“You just can’t let teams continue to get so many possessions. They (Palestinians) have 83 shots in a game. In a 40-minute game, that’s unheard of, that’s two a minute,” Baldwin pointed out.
“There were periods in the game were the effort was really good and there were periods were it wasn’t good enough. But I don’t think it was an effort issue. I really think defensively we’re not doing the right thing, possession after possession, no rebounding the ball and not hitting shots,” added the American-New Zealander mentor.