Reyes says Gilas ready to compete
(The Philippine Star) - September 20, 2016 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - Although the Philippines posted a 1-4 record and finished ninth of 12 at the recent FIBA Asia Challenge in Tehran, Gilas head coach Josh Reyes said yesterday he couldn’t demand more from his players who gave 100 percent of themselves in every game and if only the team had more time to prepare, the outcome would’ve been different.

“We played only four tune-up games with 2 1/2 weeks of all-out practice while the other teams had a lot more time to get ready,” said Reyes, following in the footsteps of his father Chot who brought the national team back to the FIBA World Cup in 2014 after a 36-year absence. “I think the positives we gained from the experience far outweigh the negatives. The little wins, moments of success will help us in the long run. It’ll take a while but now, we know how to execute. This was like a build-up practice tournament for us, taking in the players who were available considering the PBA is still in season. If we play again next month, I have no doubt that we’ll be better. Tehran gave us the opportunity to iron out kinks and establish our character. We actually played better as the tournament progressed.” Reyes said with two months of preparation and a naturalized player, Gilas would’ve likely advanced to the Final Four.

Reyes said it was a baptism of fire for most of the Gilas players in that they had never faced such a high level of opposition before. “I was impressed with our defense which kept us competitive in every game,” he said. “The problem is defense can hold up only for so long. You need offense to support it and that’s where we had to do a lot of adjusting because of the level of competition.”

The Philippines started the tournament with a 91-83 loss to India then bowed to Chinese-Taipei, 87-76 and China, 75-65 before beating Kazakhstan, 98-86. Gilas ended its campaign with a 119-105 setback to Jordan. The only teams that Gilas outranked in the final standings were Qatar, Kazakhstan and Thailand.

Reyes said on a scale of 1 to 10, he rated Gilas’ effort to be above 10. “They showed a lot of heart,” he said. “Because of our limited time, my grade for preparation was six. In actual performance, we showed we can hang with the teams that beat us but we still lacked the ability to close out so that would be an eight. In conditioning and fitness, my grade would be six. In international competition, you’ve got to play at a high fitness level. In the PBA D-League or the NCAA or UAAP, sometimes, you can get away with taking a rest on the court. Not in FIBA. You need to double your effort in every possession. You can’t afford to play at a high level without energy or activity. If you’re not fit, you wear down and by the third or fourth quarter, you have little left to show. So now that we’ve experienced playing at the FIBA level, we know we’ve got to be in tip-top shape to win consistently.”

Reyes said playing under Tehran conditions was also a challenge. “Mike (Tolomia) and AVO (Arnold Van Opstal) complained they had difficulty catching their breath because of the thin air,” he said. While Manila has an elevation of only 52 feet above sea level, Tehran is up to 3,000 to 6,000 feet.

Reyes said in Gilas’ first two games, the team had the luxury of morning practices because the competition schedule was in the afternoon. But in the last three games, the schedule was in the morning so there was little or no time to walk through plays. “We played India first and that’s a team you can’t sleep on with their big three, the Singh brothers and a 6-10 player who shoots like K. G. Canaleta,” he said. “I think if we played India later, we could’ve beaten them. But that’s how it is. I’m grateful to the guys for being so attentive. When we couldn’t do walk throughs, we just watched video and discussed our gameplan. We visualized what we wanted to do. Everyone gave his 100 percent effort. You could tell the guys were interested and concerned to learn, to get better.”

Reyes said he himself had to make adjustments. “We were groping during the tournament, feeling our way through but we were all committed to do our best,” he said. “We put together our team with a month of preparation but we only did 2 1/2 weeks of all-out practice with four tune-up games. Still, we made an impact. Mac (Belo), for instance, was among the tournament leaders in a lot of statistical departments. He was the only Asian among the top four scoring leaders as the others were imports Dar Tucker of Jordan, Kevin Galloway of Iraq and Quincy Davis of Chinese-Taipei.”

Belo led Gilas in scoring with an average of 20.2 points and hit 30 against Kazakhstan. He hit 50 percent from the field and grabbed 7.2 rebounds an outing. The only other Gilas player to average in double figure points was Tolomia who shot 10 a game. While Belo was clearly the outstanding player on the team, Reyes singled out Pogoy for his defense. “We put him on the best player of the other team every game,” said Reyes. “Against Chinese-Taipei, R. R. was on (Yi Hsiang) Chou who’s like their LeBron James.”

Reyes said every player did his share on the court. “Bryan (Cruz) banged, pushed and stretched the floor for us with his three-point shooting,” he said. “AVO defended Quincy Davis gallantly and did everything we asked of him. Coach Ryan (Gregorio) advised Kevin (Ferrer) to go strong to the hole when he struggled with his outside shot and it worked. Chris (Javier) was effective against the zone. Mike changed his mindset because at the FIBA level, he realized he couldn’t do what was easy for him in the UAAP. C. J. (Perez) was our raw talent and workhorse, he’ll need to improve his decision-making but he was tough. Von (Pessumal) got hot against Jordan, scoring 30 points. In the UAAP, he had the time to find his range but at the FIBA level, he’s got to hit right away or else somebody else will take over. That’s the adjustment Von has to make coming off the bench.”

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with