MANILA, Philippines – A FIBA suspension did not stop Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes from attending a non-FIBA-sanctioned basketball game and supporting the country’s makeshift team.
And despite the Philippines’ 82-91 meltdown against eternal headache South Korea, Reyes liked what he saw with the team and how his substitute Yeng Guiao managed things from the sidelines in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“I’m very happy with the effort of the team,” Reyes said post-game. “Coach Yeng and his coaching staff put together a really great game plan. It was a game plan that will allow us a victory in this ball game.”
“A couple of things, a couple of breaks,” he continued. “I think the first big break was when Poy Erram went down with an injury (tooth), we were up 6 points in the 3rd. That unit was playing very well, so that kind of changed the system a little bit. We didn’t give them any real good looks on their three-point shots [and] they got their three-point shots on breakdowns and scramble situations. We can’t do anything about those.”
Indeed, three-pointers once again became the bane of the Gilas’ medal hopes, as the Koreans drained 4 of their 12 total long bombs in the first seven minutes of the final frame – enough to slam the door shut on the Filipino side. (READ: PH falls victim to Korean curse yet again in Asian Games 2018)
“I think in my mind, we were one or two places away from reversing the outcome of this game, but I can’t take away anything from this team,” Reyes added. “Coach Yeng and the players, they give it their all through so much difficulties, great odds. They fought and I feel a lot of pride. They need cheering for them. I think we’ve shown that we are competitive with Korea.”
Conversely, however, Guiao is not so easy on himself following the Philippines’ exit from Asiad medal contention. (READ: Guiao on Korean heartbreaker: 'It’s my fault')
“It’s my fault,” he said post-game. “I take responsibility for this loss.”
"We just weren't comfortable with the zone,” he continued. “Even Jordan [Clarkson] had a lot of problems dealing with it. They just zoned us all game long. They stuck with the zone, lived and died with the zone, and we couldn't adjust in time.”
Gilas is now just fighting for a fifth-place finish at best to close out their Asiad campaign.
Guiao, meanwhile, will continue to coach the national team until their closed-door FIBA World Cup qualifying match on September 17 against Qatar while Reyes serves his one-game suspension. – With reports from Beatrice Go in Jakarta/Rappler.com