SEVILLE, SPAIN - Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes was left to rue another heartbreaking loss in the Fiba World Cup, saying he was tired of coming close against world basketball powers and falling short each time.
"Yun nga ang nakakabwisit e. Mabuti pa yatang natambakan na tayo kaysa sa ganito na nauungusan sa huli," said Reyes, still a bundle of emotions after Gilas lost a great opportunity to pull off a historic win over world No. 3 Argentina in this tournament among the best teams in the world.
Argentina's 81-85 win mirrored a similar loss by Gilas against Croatia on Saturday - an overtime 78-81 loss that saw the Filipinos come within one possession or two from scoring its first win at the world championships since 1974.
Together with a 70-82 loss to Greece on Sunday, Gilas, ranked No. 34 in the world, has lost its three games here by an average of 6.33 points.
Those streak of losses would've ended on Monday (Tuesday, Manila time) as Gilas had the ball with 24.4 seconds to go and trailing by just two points at 81-83 - needing a two to tie and a three to send Argentina crashing.
Reyes said he designed a play to free up Jimmy Alapag, whose five three-pointers allowed Gilas to come charging back from a 15-point deficit. The second option was a drive by Jayson Castro.
The Gilas coach later paid tribute to Argentina coach Julio Lamas, who correctly anticipated the Filipinos going to the red-hot Alapag so he put in a quicker defender in Facundo Campazzo to shadow the pint-sized Fil-Am guard in the final play.
The play was still very much alive after Alapag was denied a shot and Reyes said he went to Castro looking for the shifty guard to go for a drive.
The Talk 'N Text star, however, committed a double-touch violation when his pull-up three-pointer was anticipated by Argentina defender Pablo Prigioni.
"We wanted to free up Jimmy for one more shot, but Lamas anticipated it. I thought Jayson had a very good chance to go one-on-one. But the one time we wanted him to drive, he pulled up for a three-pointer," Reyes said.
Still, Reyes refused to blame Castro, saying it is his job as a coach to find his players open shots, especially under the grinding pressure of that final possession.
""As a coach, it's my responsibility to get good shots for my players," he said. "My only regret in losing is that my boys tried so hard and I failed to get them a win.
"I failed to give our country a win."