Luca Banchi admits Latvia 'lost in the beginning' against Gilas

Latvian coach Luca Banchi lauded Gilas for their huge win while conceding that their slow start cost them the game. FIBA
By Gil Moriones

MANILA—Falling at the wrong end of arguably the biggest upset so far in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Latvia's head coach Luca Banchi praised Gilas Pilipinas, calling their win a deserving one as manifested in their overall gameplay during their match early Thursday (Philippine Time) at the Riga Arena. 

"The first thought is to congratulate our opponent who had a great game. I believe [it was an] excellent performance from the very beginning. They were very sharp, and they imposed their physicality and also their sharpness to find every time a good solution in offense," Banchi said after the shock 89-80 loss to Gilas

The Italian mentor also cited their rushed plays, specifically several missed three-point attempts. 

"Unfortunately, the game started immediately bad and that created a sort of panic in the team. We became rushed. When you see the number, you can understand that we had a lot of threes, most of the time open," Banchi continued.

"Unfortunately we lost in the beginning." 

Gilas opened the game on an 8-0 run even as Latvia struggled from beyond the arc.

Gilas stretched their lead to 16, 32-16, at the end of the first quarter and kept the lead until the end.

Latvia never got to taste the lead. 

Banchi then admitted that they struggled to transition to how to deal with Cone's triangle offense system since they only had a few hours to think about Gilas following an 83-55 rout against Georgia early Wednesday (Philippine Time).

"It's very difficult when you have only 24 hours to adjust after we finished the game with Georgia. We had very few hours to rebuild our energies and to direct our focus against a team that no matter the system has a very specific characteristic," he said. 

"You have to be very accurate. Of course, they have an efficient offensive system. It's not simple and not common not only in Europe but in general. It's not common to have teams who run such a system. It takes time," he added.

Despite the upset loss, Latvia will still proceed to the knockout stages partly due to a strong fourth quarter that cut Gilas' winning margin to a respectable one.

Had Gilas, which led by as much as 26 in the third quarter, continued to dominate Latvia, the latter could have even been in trouble of missing the semifinals.

Latvia could still seal the top seed in Group A if Georgia beats Gilas later Thursday.

Georgia, though, must beat Gilas by 19 or more if they want to eliminate them all along.

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