COACH Chot Reyes said the just-concluded 5th Fiba Asia Cup gave Gilas Pilipinas an opportunity to “learn and unlearn” some things about international play in the lead-up to the World Cup and the Asian Games.
Reyes said the weeklong tournament held in Wuhan, China gave him an opportunity to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the new players in the pool while kicking off Gilas' buildup for the Fiba World Cup in Spain as well as the Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea this year.
“The best way to describe it is, it (Fiba Asia Cup) was a great learning/ unlearning experience because we learned a lot about the new guys,” Reyes said after Gilas eked out a heart-stopping 80-79 victory over China to earn a bronze medal finish in this year’s edition.
Part of the learning process was adapting once more to the Fiba rules, where slight bumps are normally called as fouls by the referees and traveling violations are strictly enforced.
“The old ones (old Gilas members) unlearned their PBA habits,” he said.
The fiery Gilas coach also made special mention of Rain or Shine combo guard Paul Lee for his consistent performance right in his first international tournament with the national team.
“Paul Lee proved he belongs in the (national) pool,” said the multi-titled coach.
The 6-0 guard out of the University of the East cooly sank three free throws with no time left turn almost certain defeat into victory for Gilas.
Lee finished the game with nine points, two assists and two steals in close to 16 minutes of play, providing the much-needed spark for the national squad off the bench.
The national squad is expected to be back in Manila on Sunday evening, before returning to action on Tuesday and Wednesday against NBA stars led by Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers and Paul George of the Indiana Pacers in the benefit games dubbed the PLDT Last Home Stand at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.