MANILA, Philippines—Gilas Pilipinas was unable to sweep its series of tune-up games against the Adelaide 36ers, as they bowed to the visiting team, 85-75, on Sunday at the Meralco Gym.
Gilas won their first tune-up game, 92-83, last Friday, and had hoped to mark Kiefer Ravena's return to competitive basketball with another win. They could not pull off the repeat, however.
The Filipinos went cold from behind the arc, making just 6 of their 23 attempts. They also got outworked on the boards, 41-34, and struggled to defend the 36ers in the perimeter. Adelaide made 9 of their 20 3-pointers — 4 of which came in the first quarter that set the tone for the game.
Yet afterward, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao was still satisfied with how the national team played, noting that there were "a lot of positives we can take to the World Cup."
"We've been able to simulate the kind of intensity, pressure, the defensive schemes that other teams might apply against us. It's going to get us better prepared and more ready when we get to China," said Guiao.
"Just too bad, I felt we could've played a closer game or maybe given ourselves a chance to win the game if our shots, if our 3-point shots were just falling in."
Guiao noted that this was a pattern when it comes to the team; their lone loss during their training camp in Spain came when they could not buy a basket from behind the arc against Congo.
Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
"So, that's also a lesson that we need to remember, is that the game becomes easier if we're making our 3-point shots. But the other side of that is, you're not always going to make your 3-point shots," he said.
"And on days when you cannot make your 3-point shots, you need to find other ways to win the game. So again, that's a lesson that we need to absorb and learn from this tune-up games."
Guiao was also proud to see that their inability to hit their shots did not keep the Gilas players from competing hard.
"(I'm) very happy with the effort of the guys. I can see that anyone you put in, put in the effort. That's all I'm asking of them," he said. "Sometimes, your shots really won't go in."
He specified big man June Mar Fajardo, who saw two of his lay-ups hit the rim in the first quarter but scored 5 points in the fourth frame, when Gilas Pilipinas was trying to make a comeback.
Guiao said it was not surprising that Fajardo was still struggling to get his rhythm, as he — along with Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario — were still trying to catch up after missing the bulk of Gilas' preparations due to the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup playoffs.
"So, kakapain talaga nila, it's going to take a little bit more time. But I feel when we get to China, they'll be ready," he said.
The national team will take a break Monday, before returning to work on Tuesday and Wednesday. They fly to China on Thursday, and practice upon arrival in Foshan.
"Tuloy-tuloy na 'yun," said Guiao. "So we'll take advantage of tomorrow (Monday) to give them a rest so they can recover."
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