Sonny Barrios

Team Gilas needs longer buildup

MANILA, Philippines - If given more time to prepare, Gilas Pilipinas would have fared better against powerhouse China in the finals of the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha.

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas executive director Sonny Barrios said Gilas winning seven games in a row meant it had enough talent in its roster.

But the lack of time spent together inside the court spelled the big difference between Gilas and eventual champion China.

"If coach Tab Baldwin had another month (to prepare the team) mas may laban sana (we could have fared better)," said Barrios yesterday.

The Gilas lineup was formed and officially announced by Baldwin last Sept. 8 or barely two weeks before the start of the competition.

China, on the other hand, trained for nearly seven months, relying on their skills, height and preparedness as a team.

After an opening-day loss to Palestine, Gilas racked up seven wins in a row, blowing out Hong Kong and Kuwait, beating Japan twice and ousting Iran.

"I think it was before or after the game against Iran game when I told myself that if Tab had more time, we'll have better chances," Barrios told the PSA Forum at Shakey's Malate.

"The fact we won seven straight despite that speaks a lot of our team. I have to commend Tab for many reasons," he said.

Barrios said the players, branded as "Magnificent 12," gave their best under the circumstances but admitted that in the finals, they ran out of firepower.

The Filipinos struggled on the floor - both on offense and defense.

"Everybody will agree that we did not play our best in that game," said Barrios, who narrated the hardships the Gilas players experienced in Changsha.

From their stay in the hotel to the bus rides, problems occurred night and day. On the court, especially on the final day, Gilas players were distracted.

But Barrios said that on an even playing field, Gilas could have beaten China.

"Even on their own backyard we could have beaten them," he said.

Barrios had a short answer to what should be done the next time Gilas represents the country in a major international competition.

"Longer preparation," said Barrios.

"And there lies the problem in the future," he added.

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