AFTER watching Gilas Pilipinas tear his team to shreds with impeccable outside shooting, Kazakhstan national coach Matteo Bonicciolli admitted that they have to rethink the country's basketball program if they hope to climb up to a respectable position in Asia.
Bonicciolli’s tall but slower squad couldn’t keep pace with the Filipinos, who pushed the ball every given opportunity and shot the lights out of the Mall of Asia Arena on the way to an easy 88-58 win over Kazakhstan to move to the semifinals.
“I think this is a great experience first of all for my team because we played against great teams like the Philippines and China,” noted the Italian coach.
“If you want to compete with them (referring to China, South Korea, Philippines and Iran), we need years of deep work starting from the young generation, such strong teams like the Philippines,” he added.
The 51-year-old Bonicciolli credited Gilas Pilipinas’ defense for limiting his team’s second-half production to just 18 points.
“They (Filipinos) showed great basketball made by defense than offense. This is one of the keys to their victory,” he said.
Kazakhs star forward Anton Ponomarev, meanwhile, apologized to his countrymen for his listless performance in this year’s Fiba-Asia tournament.
The 6-11 sweet-shooting power forward, who was tipped to lead the Kazakhs’ semifinal charge, could only produce eight points on three-of-10 shooting from the field. He did add 10 rebounds, but clearly, the Kazakhs had no chance against Gilas without his offense.
“It was a great game for the Philippines. They showed what they are capable of doing, capable of scoring on open shots, though unfortunately, we can’t deal with the pressure of the fans because we rarely play in this kind of crowd,” said Ponomarev after the game.
Kazakhstan’s best performance in the Asian championship happened in 2007 when the former Soviet state placed fourth after losing to South Korea in the battle for bronze.
The Kazakhs best non-Fiba-Asia tournament finish happened in the 2002 Asian Games when they defeated the Filipinos in the battle for third in Busan, South Korea.