Gilas Pilipinas game plan in place for the next window

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WHAT doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

Friedrich Nietzche’s words ring true for the young guns of Gilas Pilipinas, who expect to come out of their failed campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup better and wiser.

The youth-laden crew sustained a 102-81 loss to hot-shooting Japan Tuesday night at the Istora Senayan in Jakarta, missing out on a quarterfinal ticket. This marked the first time the Filipinos did not reach at least the Last-8 of the Continental meet since 2007. It was also their first loss to the Akatsuki Five in 12 years.

“Obviously, the result is not what we wanted. We’re very sorry that we’ve disappointed a lot of our countrymen, our fellow Filipinos,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes.”

The veteran coach noted that none of the 12 players in this group had played in the FIBA Asia Cup before.

“We brought a very young team here and the experience and exposure to the kind of intensity and level of play here at the Asian Cup is just going to make them better,” said Mr. Reyes, who once led Gilas to the silver of the FIBA Asia Cup in 2013 en route to a trip to the following year’s FIBA World Cup.

Skipper Kiefer Ravena took the blame for his failure to lead the squad to success.

“I felt like I let the team down, not being the leader they expected. Maraming shortcomings,” said the Japan B. League vet.

“I’m still learning, this being my first time. Not here to make any excuses but I told them this is for the long haul. Whether we play in Japan, PBA, Korea or wherever, this is something we have to really embrace and take into heart, everything that happens here will make us better.”

Gilas will have just a little over a month to regroup with the second round of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers tipping off next month. The Filipino dribblers open their Group E campaign on Aug. 25 on the road against Lebanon, which handed them a 95-80 beating in the Asia Cup group stage. They host Saudi Arabia four days later.

“We already have a plan in place for the next window,” said Mr. Reyes, maintaining that the Gilas plan actually goes all the way to the global hoopfest in August 2023.

“We’re operating under very difficult circumstances and a lot of restrictions but we’re making do with what we have. In the end, that’s all we can do, take what’s in front of us and just continue plugging away and hopefully, we continue to develop and get better for next year.” — Olmin Leyba