It’s just the way things are.
Gilas Pilipinas, for all its hopes and aspirations, is still ranked 40th in the FIBA men’s world ranking. Simply said, the Philippines is arguably still the Davids in the sea of Goliaths.
In their tune-up game against 18th-ranked Montenegro on Sunday, that message was again sent as Gilas lost by 15, 102-87. National team mentor Chot Reyes, nonetheless, doesn’t seem to be shaken.
“This game really made us feel we’re in the World Cup,” Reyes said in a postgame interview posted on the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Facebook page.
Coach Chot, however, was quick to pounce on the lesson that Gilas needed to learn: As the underdogs, they have a small margin of error. Sunday’s game provided that teaching moment.
“When we started the third quarter with three straight turnovers and they scored two 3-pointers [and a] 2-point shot right away, 8-0 run, basically, that turned the tide. When we give good quality teams like Montenegro a momentum like that, a lead like that, it’s going to be very hard to recover,” Reyes explained.
“A brief letdown, and you see what happens,” he added.
There were still bright spots, as Gilas finished the first half trailing only by two points. Jordan Clarkson and Dwight Ramos led the attack early on.
“I like how we competed. We competed with them the entire first half,” said the six-time PBA Coach of the Year.
Clarkson, however, also had 8 turnovers. It’s not the first time that the coaching staff harped on minimizing errors, specifically turnovers.
They have one more friendly on Monday night against Mexico, where they hope to iron out the kinks in their game.
“That’s why we play these games, for us to learn what else we can improve on,” said Coach Chot.