GILAS Pilipinas side used its speed, crisp passing and solid defense to make up for its size disadvantage against Miami pro-am squad on the way to a 95-74 victory in the national squad’s very first tune-up match in Miami, Florida on Sunday.
The nationals, which spent the first seven days in their South Beach training camp polishing its defense and strengthening its chemistry, drew big contributions from new naturalized center Andray Blatche, reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar to dispose of their American counterparts in the final period.
Defense played a huge role for Gilas as it held the Miami team to just 14 points in the final period.
On the other hand, Aguilar, Fajardo and even Gabe Norwood got away with a lot of easy buckets in transition late in the game to bloat the winning margin.
Energy guy Marc Pingris said they still have a long way to go in their buildup for the Fiba World Cup in Spain late this month, but added the 21-point rout is a step in the right direction.
"Super galing nila (Miami pro-am squad) at matatangkad,” he said.
Pingris, coming off a grand slam season with San Mig back home, said the win also showed that the sacrifices the team is doing in training camp are paying off.
“Mahirap pero kailangan tanggapin mo ito (training camp) dahil para sa bayan at sa pamilya natin ito,” Pingris told Spin.ph on Sunday.
Gilas is expected to play another tune-up match against an American squad on Sunday night (Monday morning in Manila).