Gilas Pilipinas will need to play a complete game when they face Italy at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday night.
According to national team head coach Chot Reyes, their third match in Group A of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2023 is a must-win for a team that has lost its first two games.
“We have to find a way to play 40 minutes of good basketball,” Reyes said during Gilas practice on Monday night at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
“In the first game [against Dominican Republic], we played 36 minutes, while in the second game [against Angola], we played 24 minutes. So maybe if we can put together 40 minutes, hindi natin nabubuo eh,” he added.
Gilas was looking good with a 3-point advantage against the Dominican Republic at the Philippine Arena on Friday, midway through the fourth quarter, only to surrender consecutive three-pointers and lose 87-81.
Two days later, at the Araneta Coliseum, they surged to an 11-point lead over Angola but were unable to sustain it. In the second half, Angola stifled the Philippines’ offense en route to an 80-70 victory.
“Hopefully, we can put it together, that’s No. 1. Our goal since last night is to get the players’ minds off all the pressure and expectation. Ang bigat kasi pareho eh,” said Reyes.
“We just want them to enjoy, remind them to just play their game. At this point, they really have to find their game talaga,” he added.
Game time against the Italians is 8:00 p.m.
After giving up 20 offensive rebounds to Bruno Fernando and Angola, Reyes emphasized the significance of controlling the glass against Italy. Reyes stated that the national team’s inability to complete defensive stops was more detrimental than their poor shooting, as they were held to only 4-of-22 from long range.
Gilas and Italy are both hoping that the Dominican Republic defeats Angola at 4:00 p.m., while the Philippines must defeat Italy by at least 13 points to advance to the second round of the World Cup.
However, according to Reyes, the tiebreak and potential scenarios are the last thing on his mind as he focuses on winning and remaining in contention for a possible Olympic berth.
“Ako, manalo lang [against Italy] kasi ang iniisip ko yung Olympics. We need to qualify to the Olympics,”