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Coach Yeng on Gilas Pilipinas' rough start against Qatar: "It's like a hangover from our Iran game"

Yeng Guiao admits that the Iranian hangover was still there for Gilas Pilipinas. Franchesca Nicole Collantes/Dugout Philippines
By Yann Magcamit

MANILA -- Despite having a rough start, Gilas Pilipinas managed to turn their closed-door FIBA World Cup Qualifiers game against Qatar around at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Monday night.

It was evident that Gilas Pilipinas took off on a bad start for their match against Qatar based on their lack of scoring, which eventually led the opponent to lead by as much as 17 points within the first half.

"The first half was really bad, especially from three-point shooting. We’re at six percent--and to think these are the best shooters in the country," Coach Yeng Guiao noted. 

"It’s like a hangover from our Iran game," he added, pertaining to the national team's previous game against Iran where they encountered the same problem and shot only 38 percent from the field.

Coach Yeng attributed their opponent's strong start to their capability to shoot beyond the arc, which Gilas struggled in matching and stopping at first.

"As big as Qatar was, I felt like what really gave them a lead in the first half was their three-point shooting. It was not really their size, it was their incredible percentage from the three-point line. We know some of them can shoot the three, but we did not expect that they will shoot 54 percent," he expressed.

Coach Yeng admitted that even he got concerned about how the team was fumbling for points, but his trust in both the system and his players proved to be stronger than his worries.

"While that was happening, pinakaba tayo talaga nitong mga players na ‘to. Kahit ako sabi ko, 'anong nangyayari?' Pero sabi ko lang, let’s just be patient and stick to the game plan," he said.

"I told them at halftime to just take the normal shots they were taking. Don’t mind the percentages, just be focused on running the set, and executing the game plan," he shared.

And he banked on the team's determination to emerge victorious on their home court, even without any fans on sight.

"I think a big difference was, they really wanted to win. These guys really wanted to win," Coach Yeng said.

This drive, together with their game tactics and an upped defense, proved to be enough to turn things around for the final 20 minutes of the game.

"We just waited for them to miss two shots and use our speed advantage," he said.

And it had been effective as Gilas Pilipinas eventually triumphed over the Qatar team with a final score of 92-81.

[Ivan Saldajeno from Quezon City contributed to this report]

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