Gilas Pilipinas eyes payback against Senegal

After a day off, Gilas Pilipinas and Senegal will clash anew on Sunday night at the Heyuan Sports Gymnasium in Guangdong, China, in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament.

The first three quarters of Friday night’s encounter between the two sides were nip-and-tuck, but the 2021 FIBA AfroBasket bronze medalist used their size to the hilt and hammered out a 72-64 win. The Filipinos, who opened the three-nation pocket tournament with an 11-point triumph over Iran’s B squad, fell to 1-1.

“I’m just disappointed because we could have won the game,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes during an interview with One Sports’ Carlo Pamintuan.

Despite the setback, Reyes commended the players for playing well after enduring a six-hour bus ride to the venue.

“I’m pleased with them because we came from a six-hour drive bus ride and we barely got here at the venue,” he said.

“I’m really pleased with the fight of the boys. They showed tremendous fight, they tried to defend and stay with the (Senegal) team,” added Reyes who celebrated his 60th birthday last August 1.

Gilas will need to play better defense, be more active on the boards, and take better care of the ball if they want to come out on top in their second meeting.

June Mar Fajardo led the way in the first encounter with 14 points, followed by CJ Perez and Dwight Ramos who both finished with 11 markers.

Roger Pogoy, Calvin Oftana, and even high-flying Rhenz Abando played significant roles in Gilas’ 76-65 triumph over Iran on Thursday night, but all three failed to produce enough against the Africans which proved to be the difference.

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