SEVILLE, SPAIN - From where he sits on the bench, Gilas Pilipinas assistant coach Norman Black sees the Philippines finally breaking through after a couple of near-misses.
"I have a feeling we're ready to break through," said Black on a rest day in the Fiba World Cup, which Gilas used to do light morning training before the players were given the rest of the day to spend with their families.
Asked what made him feel so, Black continued: "We've been so close. We're playing some of the best teams in the world, nobody expects us to compete with them but we're competing with them and we're putting ourselves in a position to win games.
"We just need to come out with the same attitude, continue to play with a lot of energy which has been to our advantage thus far, and just break through.
"Although we haven't been able to win one yet, like I said we're ready to break through already."
After Gilas lost its first three games by a combined margin of just 6.33 points, Black told Spin.ph he won't be surprised if that breakthrough comes in the team's last two games against Puerto Rico on Wednesday and Senegal the following day.
The PBA grand slam coach admitted he didn't know what to expect going into this 24-nation tournament spread over four Spanish cities, but started to believe Gilas is capable of pulling the rug from under some of the best teams after the overtime loss to Croatia on Saturday.
"I didn't know what to expect, to be honest with you. But once we played Croatia, I felt that we could really compete with these teams," said Black, who was moved from Talk 'N Text to sister team Meralco ahead of the new PBA season.
"Croatia is one of the best teams in the world, not just in this tournament but the world and we knew that going in. And when we showed that we can stay with them and put ourselves in a situation where we can actually win the game, that told me we can play with these teams.
"Obviously, Andray (Blatche) helped a lot (because) he gives us the size in the center position that allows us to match up with the other centers of other teams. But all the other positions, undersized as we are, we play as hard as possible. That has been the key."
The multi-titled coach said it was easy to understand why Gilas was pretty "awkward" to play for teams like Argentina, whose coach, Julio Lamas, admitted after the close shave on Sunday that it was the "most uncomfortable game" he had to coach in his life.
"We're pretty awkward to play for most of these teams because we rely on a lot of speed and quickness, we take the first available open shot because we may not get them later in the shotclock, so we're very quick to shoot what's available to us, and fortunately for us we've been making a lot of our shots in this tournament," he said.
"I'm sure a lot of these teams are not used to playing teams like us - a team who despite the fact that we lack the size do not lack the heart, we don't lack the strength, and we don't lack the ability to play physical.
"At the same time, we respect them but that's about as far as we go. When we meet them on the court, we're going to play them as hard as possible."