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Chot Reyes says Gilas needs '40 minutes of good basketball' to overwhelm Italy

Chot Reyes hopes for 40 minutes of good basketball to keep Gilas alive. Kennelf Monteza (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

MANILA--It was the one question begging to be asked of Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes going to the Italy game Tuesday night following two losses in the FIBA Basketball World Cup: Does the team have anything left in the tank – emotionally?

“Yeah, [but] we have to find a way to play 40 minutes of good basketball,” Reyes said during team practice Monday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.

“In the first game [against Dominican Republic], we played 36 minutes, while in the second game [against Angola], we played 24 minutes. So maybe if we can put together 40 minutes… hindi natin nabubuo e.”

Before an all-time high FIBA crowd of 38,115 last Friday, August 25, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan, Gilas Pilipinas carried a three-point lead halfway into the fourth quarter against the Dominican Republic and Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, only to fall prey to back-to-back three-pointers by the FIBA Americas qualifier and world No. 23, to wind up losing 87-81.

Two days later, on Sunday, Gilas Pilipinas sprinted to an 11-point lead early in the second quarter against Angola and Atlanta Hawks stalwart Bruno Fernando at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, but saw the advantage dissipate before halftime, to eventually fall, 80-70.

The blown opportunities and combined 16-point losing margin are what could come back to haunt the Philippine team if, as Reyes said, the Nationals fail to play “40 minutes of good basketball” against Italy, the world No. 10.

“Hopefully, we can put it together, that’s No. 1,” Reyes said. “Our goal since last night [Monday] is to get the players’ minds off all the pressure and expectation. Ang bigat kasi pareho e.”

“We just want them to enjoy, remind them to just play their game. At this point, they really have to find their game talaga.”

Without exactly breaking down the Angola game, Reyes said he didn’t find Gilas Pilipinas’ overall defense wanting much.

“I don’t think you can ask anything more from the defense. I know we gave up a couple of open three-pointers yesterday, but in the end, they still shot below 30 percent sa three and below 40 percent overall. We still shot better than them. Maski ‘di tayo maka-shoot ng three-points, we still ended up shooting a better field goal percentage.”

Angola went 9-of-31 beyond the arc; the Philippines 4-of-22, with Jordan Clarkson going 1-of-8.

What really hurt Gilas Pilipinas, according to Reyes, was the Angolans’ power under the boards.

“Offensive rebounds talaga,” he said. “They had 20 offensive rebounds. Tayo naman we had 12, but they had more. So, in the end din, it’s just the inability to knock down the three. And in today’s game, gaano ka-importante yung three-point shot?”

With a victory by the Dominican Republic over Angola at 4 p.m. Tuesday, coupled with a blowout win over Italy later at 8 p.m. and the resulting three-team tie for the second spot in Group A as the only hope left for Gilas 

“Thirteen lang ba? Fourteen points? Actually, I’m not even thinking of that [the points needed in case of a tiebreak],” he said. “Ako, manalo lang [against Italy] kasi ang iniisip ko yung Olympics. We need to qualify for the Olympics.”

For brief moments against the Dominican Republic and Angola, tickets for a direct flight to Paris were within Gilas Pilipinas’ reach. Now, they need to take a longer route via Italy in order to get there.

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