While a 76-65 win, where Gilas Pilipinas took several commanding leads in a pocket tournament in China against an old tormentor seems impressive, coach Chot Reyes has a lot of negative things to say which his Nationals need to address.
“We need to start games better and finish games better,” Reyes said in a Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas dispatch from the Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament late Thursday despite that seemingly convincing win against many-time Asian champion Iran. “[We had a] bad start and a very bad finish.”
Despite not having Jordan Clarkson and with Kai Sotto continuing his self-imposed rest, the Filipinos pulled out a win against the Iranians as Rhenz Abando and AJ Edu played big together with Jamie Malonzo, who will again need to step up when Gilas battles Senegal next.
There are just 20 days left before the Fiba (International Basketball Federation)World Cup gets off the ground in the Philippines, Indonesia and Japan and Reyes wants everything polished way before the team plays its first official game.
“The thing we want is the experience of playing against great size,” Reyes said. “We know how tall Iran is, we know how tall and long Senegal is. This is a test not only for our bigs, but for the rest of the team.”
“We want to gauge how far we’ve come and what else we need to work on,” he went on.
The Philippines will play Italy, the Dominican Republic and Angola in the group phase starting Aug. 25 and having the chance to play Senegal in China will give Reyes—more or less—the feel of playing the Senegalese in the tournament.
Gilas owns a victory over Senegal, one which was carved out in overtime in Seville, Spain in the 2014 edition, 81-79.
The Philippines plays both the Iranians and the Senegalese later in the week before coming home to Manila for the final push of the preparations that started as early as last year.
Clarkson will join the team once it returns, while the status of the 7-foot-3 Sotto, who has reportedly signed a contract but asked to be left behind because of an aching back, is still uncertain as of this writing.
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