Jordan Clarkson PHOTO BY RIO DELUVIO
At 6:45 p.m. Saturday, Gilas Pilipinas commenced team practice at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City, putting behind it an excruciating loss 24 hours ago while looking forward to what could be a redemptive victory 24 hours from now.
The defeat was against Dominican Republic and Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns, 87-81, at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan Friday, where the Philippines held a three-point lead halfway in the fourth quarter before blowing it away, leaving in shock a FIBA all-time record crowd of 38,115.
Redemption, on the other hand, could come against Angola at 8 p.m. Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, where a victory against the African qualifier would send Gilas Pilipinas to a heavily motivated collision with world No. 10 Italy on Tuesday, also at the Big Dome.
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In that situation, where a shot at advancing to the second round of the Group Phase is at stake, anything could happen.
Foremost for now, however, is to shove the setback to Dominican Republic, where the Filipinos turned the ball over 19 times, to the farthest reaches of memory as possible.
Assistant coach Jong Uichico, charged with drawing up a scouting report on Angola, said recovering swiftly from a deflating loss is imperative in international competition.
“After a loss, you go to practice, correct your mistakes, and move on,” Uichico, a former national coach himself and once an understudy of the late Ron Jacobs.
Not waiting for the next day’s walkthrough to put closure on the loss, as it turned out, was Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes.
Asked whether there were indications in the evening practice that the players have moved on, Reyes said, “Yes, we made sure about it last night during dinner at the hotel.”
Is there any psychology involved in softening the impact of a heartbreaking loss, especially if another equally important game is 24 hours away?
“If you give your best, it’s easier to come back,” Reyes said. “I thought we gave our best. They beat us, that’s life. It’s easier for us to come back from that.”
Points of comparison between Dominican Republic and Angola, which boasts of Atlanta Hawks center Bruno Fernando and do-it-all point guard Childe Dundao, are plain to see, said Reyes.
“In terms of their athleticism and size. Even their main man, Bruno Fernando, is going to be like Karl-Anthony Towns. Of course, maybe not of the (same) level, pero we really have to focus on Fernando as well. And then there’s also the point guard, Dundao, we also have to be ready for him.”
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Fernando had 13 points, five rebounds, four steals, two assists, and just two turnovers in an 80-67 loss to Italy in the first game Friday, while Dundao, who could be the bigger headache for Gilas Pilipinas, had 19 points, with four three-point shots, three assists, two steals, and only three turnovers.
Gilas Pilipinas spent roughly two hours on the playing court, immediately leaving to give way for the next team taking over to practice for a do-or-die game: Angola.
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