SEVILLE, SPAIN - After another close loss to Puerto Rico on Wednesday, Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes sounded like someone who has had it with big players making the big plays against them time and time again.
If it wasn't Brooklyn Net Bojan Bogdanovic rescuing Croatia or former New York Knick Pablo Prigioni making the big defensive play for Argentina, it was NBA veteran JJ Barea denying Gilas and Reyes a historic victory in the Fiba World Cup yet again.
On Wednesday, it was Barea's turn to break Gilas' hearts, scoring 30 points for a Puerto Rican team that was without two starters in Carlos Arroyo and Angel Vassallo and had no choice but to turn to a hurting Renaldo Balkman to finish the final five minutes.
The 5-foot-11 Barea also saved his best for last, scoring 10 of Puerto Rico's final 12 points including a daring drive over an outstretched Marc Pingris for a 72-70 lead, time down to 51.8 seconds.
"Again, it's those big stars," rued Reyes after the 73-77 defeat that knocked Gilas out of contention for a place in the knockout rounds. "If it wasn't Barea for Puerto Rico, it is Luis Scola and Prigio for Argentina or a Simon and a Bogdanovic for Croatia.
Barea's take-charge attitude, Reyes said, is exactly what an 'inexperienced' Gilas lacked to win at this level.
"He's an NBA player, he just kept beating us off the dribble, off ball screens, making tough shots after tough shots. He just put his team on his shoulders and said, 'No, we're not losing this game,'" the Gilas coach said before a group of journalists at the press room.
"And perhaps, that's what we lacked - a player who will put his team on his shoulders and say, 'We're not losing this game, give the ball to me.'
"Every game we played, we had a chance to make the game-winning play and couldn't deliver. Perhaps its our inexperience in situations like this, not only the players but also me as a coach.
"So far, because of our inexperience, we don't have a player like that."
How about Andray Blatche, who had 25 points and 14 rebounds for Gilas?
"You have to remember that this is Blatche's first international tournament. He has absolutely no clue how to play in these tournaments," Reyes said. "He is very inexperienced in this situations and in the clutch, it showed."
Reyes, however, aired the hope that Gilas can continue to gain the experience at this level - and hopefully be more experienced the next time it goes to war.
"Hopefully we can get the chance to come back here and gain the experience," he said.