Coach Pat Aquino admits inexperience, jitters cost Perlas Pilipinas in loss to Thailand
Coach Pat Aquino answering questions during the postgame interview following Perlas Pilipinas' loss to Thailand in the 28th Southeast Asian Games. Photos by Reuben Terrado

SINGAPORE - National women’s basketball coach Pat Aquino admitted the team’s inexperience showed in Perlas Pilipinas’ loss to Thailand in an all-important match in the 28th Southeast Asian Games on Tuesday.

Aquino did commend the effort of the Filipinas in their debut game against the defending champions despite losing, 62-57, to start their campaign in the single-round robin on a sour note.

He noted how the team mounted a big 9-0 run in the final quarter that put Perlas Pilipinas on top, only to fade again after failing to sustain the streak going home.

“We didn’t give up. They didn’t give up. They tried to win the game. But again, the breaks of the game were there, the calls of the referees, the pushing foul and the intentional (unsportsmanlike) foul. Siguro nga rookie ‘yung mga players ko,” said Aquino.

In his postmatch interview, Aquino cited two crucial endgame calls that could have given the Philippines a chance to close in on the reigning champions.

The national coach, however, refused to pinpoint officiating as the main reason for the loss, stressing that the Filipinas being held down to just eight points in the second quarter dimmed their chances of winning the game.

“We lacked intensity doon sa second quarter. Nawala tayo … We should have done better in our ball handling … Hindi ko na control ‘yung tawagan pero we should have done better taking care of the ball. May jitters pa,” he said.

Aquino also felt the Filipinas were intimidated by the many-time reigning champions.

“Hindi pa rin nawawala ‘yung nasa background na sila (Thailand) ang defending champion,” said Aquino.

Perlas Pilipinas huddles at centercourt. Reuben Terrado
Perlas Pilipinas huddles at centercourt. Reuben Terrado

Follow the writer on Twitter: @reubensports