MANY Cebuanos were disappointed over the “bad” performance of the Gilas Pilipinas in the 2016 Rio Olympics qualifying tournament, exiting early after losing their first two games at the Mall of Asia Arena.
But while many were frustrated at the way coach Tab Baldwin shuffled his players, some believed that the Philippines still has a long way to go.
“Forget international basketball. Train our sight on Asia. To SBP, huwag ninyo bilogin ang ulo ng mga Pinoy that we will make it in the international level. It seem that the objective of the Gilas program is marketing, not as what they have told us,” said Philippine Sports Commission’s Ramon Fernandez, a member of the 1974 Fiba World Cup Philippine team and a PBA 4-time MVP.
Fernandez’s statement came at the heels of Gilas’ frustrating loss to the Tall Blacks of New Zealand, 89-80, last Wednesday that ended the Philippines’ hope of making it back to the quadrennial Summer Games slated in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in August.
The Philippines made a total of seven appearances in the Summer Olympics, the first was in 1936 in Berlin, Germany and the last time in Mexico, 1968.
For Cebu City Sports Commission commissioner and sportsman Lorenzo “Chao” Sy, Gilas’ lack of experience in international competitions was one of the reasons the team fell short.
“Their performance is okay. They entertained us, they fought hard, Gilas just lack international experience. I guess everybody was satisfied with their performance especially those who bought tickets to watch the game live at MOA Arena, even our president (Rodrigo Duterte) enjoyed the game,” Sy said.
What Sy saw was the lack of shooters and the tendency of the Gilas players to play as individuals.
“They should not disband that team, just add more shooters, size and ceilings. More training and exposure abroad, maybe that’s what they needed,” said Sy.
Lawyer Baldomero Estenzo, the Dean of the University of Cebu College of Law and Junemar Fajardo’s legal adviser, also admitted Gilas’ too much dribbling and lack of defense was the cause of their defeats.
“It’s either they were not lucky on their shots or the defense of New Zealand was good that Gilas had difficulty making their shots. Also, there was too much dribbling on the part of Gilas which led to many turnovers. Gilas’ defense also left much to be desired. Finally I think there was too much reliance on the MVP (Manny V. Pangilinan) players to the dismay of many. But it was the coach’s call and prerogative,” Estenzo said.
For Estenzo, to become a better team, our national team should be a selection of the best players and must have a longer preparation.
“Maybe it would be better if the champion team in the All-Filipino Conference will represent the country (to international competition) with privilege to get players from the other team that it needs . (In this case) teamwork is already there. Yeng Guiao can be the coach,” Estenzo said.
Veteran coach Jun Noel of the University of San Jose-Recoletos observed that Gilas was not prepared.
“Gilas was not ready for the tournament and the new players were still adjusting to the system. That is why their defense was too loose because of the poor rotation of the players, especially the new ones,” Noel said.
UV Green Lancers head coach Gary Cortes said Gilas wasted too much time dribbling, resulting to hurried and poor shot selections.