TAIPEI - In the eyes of Chinese Taipei's top big man, this latest incarnation of Gilas Pilipinas is better and tougher than the previous Philippine team he had faced.
Appearing before the Taiwanese media moments after the hosts were dealt a stinging 69-77 defeat by a Gilas team led by the irrepressible duo of Calvin Abueva and Terrence Romeo, Taipei center Tseng Wen-ting felt he faced a team better and tougher than the Gilas team they beat in the 2013 Fiba Asia championship in Manila.
"This team is better, plus the defense is tougher so we made a lot of turnovers today," the long-haired Tseng, who had to bleed for his 11 points against the defense of Moala Tautuaa, Asi Taulava, Marc Pingris and Sonny Thoss, said through an interpreter.
The 6-7 Tseng was the star of the Taipei team that beat Gilas, 74-69, in Manila two years ago.
"Their defense is more physical, and it became very easy to make turnovers," he added, when asked to explain the 17 turnovers the hosts committed to the 10 of Gilas.
Taipei naturalized center Quincy Davis echoed Tseng's words, saying Gilas threw a lot of big bodies at him inside.
Tautuaa fouled out with under five minutes remaining while Pingris had four fouls and Taulava and Thoss three each. But apparently, they did well enough to frustrate Davis and Co. inside the paint.
"They had a lot of big guys and it was very frustrating trying to battle down there," said Davis, who still led Taipei with 13 points and seven rebounds.
On the other hand, Taipei coach Chou Chun-san said they tried to overplay most of the Philippines' guards but couldn't keep them from scoring.
Terrence Romeo, Jayson Castro and Calvin Abueva combined for all but 28 of the Philippines' production. Another gunner, Dondon Hontiveros, added three three-pointers.
"We keep paying attention to their left side. The Philippines attacked the left side easily," he said through an interpreter. "We paid attention to this, but still they worked good on the left side."