Now’s not the time to worry, Gilas Pilipinas is just getting started

By Klyde Manansala | Photo from FIBA website

The efforts of Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas and PBA in assembling the best national team seem to have made everyone extra passionate to the point whenever high expectations aren’t met, disappointment often turns into the the idea that Gilas Pilipinas doesn’t stand a chance on reaching a new feat in the field of international basketball.

Three-point shots weren’t sinking, point-blank attempts failed to convert, and turnovers were aplenty. This was how it went for Gilas during the dying minutes of their winnable bout against Iran last Thursday, suffering an 81-73 meltdown.

Yes, it was nerve-wracking. We almost had them. If only they made the shots they usually make, Gilas Pilipinas could have put a tremendous team to the ground. They could have displayed tighter defense and closed out on Iran’s range shooters. Had they reigned everything in, they could have sent a clear message that Gilas Pilipinas shouldn’t be taken nonchalantly.

With all certainty, it was upsetting. But at this point in which local sports officials finally have full control of gathering the right pieces to create a steadfast roster paired with a seasoned head coach patrolling the sidelines, is it really worth fretting over every loss this new team bears? If we’re looking at the bigger picture, it’s about damn time to set aside the coulda-woulda-shoulda sentiments and start recognizing that the national team is still on the verge of development and progression.

Right off the bat, it should be deemed that the revamped squad have yet to master their team chemistry. In other words, “trust the process” is the battle cry that relatively applies to the current juncture of the national team.

As what Ginebra coach Tim Cone has said in a post-game analysis against Iran, “A lot of these guys haven’t played the international game for a long time. A guy like Scottie Thompson hasn’t played at all, so this is a great learning experience for the team and coach Yeng Guiao, too.”

“The national team is all about development, developing the team and getting better,” Cone said.

It was clearly Gilas’ off night last Thursday, converting just 25 of their 65 shot attempts. Perhaps the biggest game-changer was their failure to shoot the lights out. Gilas went five out of 28 from downtown with two of their lethal shooters, Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot, delivering just one trey out of seven attempts.

“This is a new regime. Everything’s new to these guys. A lot of guys are playing this for the first time in a long time, but I think technically, tactically, this is a well-played game,” Cone added.

“You cannot judge this team right now. You’ve got to have patience on this team. You got to let this team to develop. I think this is important for a national team’s success, to be patient,” said Cone

The Philippines simply misfired, but then again, it’s all about picking lessons throughout the journey. It’s about finding other ways to win when your primary weapon is not working. It’s not about immediately posing a huge threat or wanting to be tagged as the dark horse, it’s about gaining international experience and getting better hereafter.

“You cannot judge this team right now. You’ve got to have patience on this team. You got to let this team to develop. I think this is important for a national team’s success, to be patient,” said Cone.

Right now, whether we successfully weather the storm or the other way around, we just have to say these three simple words: Onto the next.

Gilas Pilipinas will face Qatar tonight in a closed-door game at Araneta Coliseum, 7:30 pm. The final 12 that will battle tonight are: Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Matthew Wright, Scottie Thompson, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Gabe Norwood, Poy Erram, Beau Belga, Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, and Asi Taulava.