Guiao: Gilas at crossroads after disappointing FIBA WC fifth window

Gilas Coach Yeng Guiao

After going winless on back to back heartbreaking defeats in the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao believes the national squad has some interesting decisions to make for both the immediate and long-term futures.

Gilas once again dropped a close affair on Monday night when they were outplayed to the finish line by Iran, 78-70. Overall, they went empty-handed in the fifth window as they lost to Kazakhstan prior, 92-88.

The Philippines dropped to 5-5 in Group F standings, only good for fourth place so far with two remaining contests lined up in February 2019.

Only the top three teams of each of the two groups are guaranteed spots to the World Cup, with the seventh spot reserved for the better fourth placer of either group.

Well, of course we are disappointed not just about the match but the whole window,” Guiao said.

“We are looking forward to February (2019) but after this game, we have to make some assessments, evaluations, and decisions. When I took on this job, I stated very clearly my objective and our goal is to bring this team to the World Cup.”

In contrast to their match against Kazakhstan, Gilas did start out well, with Marcio Lassiter knocking down three straight triples to give the Philippines a good opening cushion.

It was back and forth from there, with Gilas leading by as much as eight points in the early fourth quarter. Unfortunately, Iran mounted an even better comeback run, and closed the game outscoring Gilas 26-10 from that point.

“For a while, we thought we had a really good chance of winning the game. For most part of the game, we were holding a small lead. We were on the verge of breaking out,” Guiao pointed. “It just didn’t happen and towards the end game, I thought it was lack of maturity for our team.”

Gilas named the 20-man pool about three weeks before the fifth window. They played four tune-up games, dropping three.

Like their loss to Kazakhstan, the national squad again had trouble closing the game out, with their lack of cohesion, end-game composure, and experience under pressure showing.

“It’s not as cohesive as we wanted to be at this point. The guys tried their best. I knew and I saw they were giving their best but the crucial points in the game, we made some bad decisions and crucial breaks,” Guiao said.

Gilas got out-scored 28-16 overall in the fourth quarter of the Iran game.

The mentor noted that another issue they had in the two games they played in the fifth window is giving up too many free throws to the opposing team.

Gilas surrendered 77 total free throw attempts to their two opponents in the window, something Guiao attributed to the lack of time adjusting to the international brand of play—including the international interpretation of calls.

“That’s the problem I guess, we are not really accustomed to the officiating. We don’t know how certain calls are made in the international game. That is something we should be responsible for. We should adapt to that. I think that was very crucial,” Guiao shared.

All in all, such issues should be addressed by having more time and having a permanent pool of players that will train and compete together internationally, much like the first iteration of the Gilas squad led by amateur stars.

“Certainly, time together is going to help. I’m not sure if that is totally within our control–being able to have extra time to play together. I’m not sure we can do something about it. It’s really up to the PBA and SBP. If there is (more) time, that will be very helpful,” Guiao said.

“As good as these players are, you know if a team is matured or not. It is going to show in the way you play your game under pressure. I felt that when we were under pressure, our maturity did not show and that is a function of time together and seeing and experiencing adversity as a group, which we did not have enough of.”

Guiao himself suggested a pool of 15 players that will train exclusively with the national team.

“I was actually suggesting let’s decide once and for all who the national team players are and not keep naming a pool, kasi parati tayong may pool kapag may window. After noong first window na nilaro natin, we had 20. I suggested to keep the number down to 15, and then let’s support those 15 with time together, with international experience in competition, with training and exposure as a team,” the NLEX Road Warriors head coach added.

For now, with the Philippines currently outside the top three with two more games to boot, the national squad is fazed with tough decisions that lie ahead, and they have to act quickly to keep the World Cup dream alive.

“We have to make assessments on the next two games and the situations of the other teams. I also stated that if I cannot bring this team to the World Cup, I will walk away. So, tingnan natin,” Guiao concluded. “We are in that stage now, where there is really a crossroad looking into the future and making that assessment, I have to discuss this with our basketball leaders.”

By Levi Verora, Jr.

One Response to Guiao: Gilas at crossroads after disappointing FIBA WC fifth window

  1. Irvin Labadan says:

    National pool should have been permanent (15-man pool) since 1st window up to the actual world cup (I still believe we can make it). For me, here is my list of 15-man pool.

    1. Blatche
    2. Fajardo
    3. Slaughter
    4. Aguilar
    5. Rosario
    6. Erram
    7. Norwood
    8. Wright
    9. Lassiter
    10. Castro
    11. Romeo
    12. Ravena

    13. *Abueva
    14. *Almazan
    15. *Cabagnot

    I believe this team composition will sweep the last 2 games. Japan will probably win its last 2 games too. We’ll just hope to become the 4th best team from the two groups combined to qualify. We are still a very strong team. In fact we are ranked number 4 in our zone, behind Australia, Iran, and China. Good luck Team Pilipinas!

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