Philippines, 17 Jul 2019
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Hope springs eternal for PH Five

“Not bad.”

This was how head coach Yeng Guiao assessed the national pool’s 92-98 loss to Jordan in the teams’ tune up game held Monday night before a jampacked Meralco gym in Pasig City.

“Not a bad loss really, considering that it’s our boys’ first game as a team after only three practice sessions since they’ve been named as members of the pool,” Guiao told this writer a day after his boys’ initial outing.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of losing by only six points to a team, its country’s national team a that,” Guiao, who is running as Pampanga congressman in next year’s elections, reasoned out. “This only means may pag-asang may marating ang team bubuuin natin para sa fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.”

“Ngayong araw nga lang nagkita-kita ang mga yan because of the PBA quarterfinal and semifinal rounds which ended up only early this week, reason why some players failed to show up during our initial practice,” the balding mentor of the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA explained.

“A few more practice and three more tune up games within the next two days of our preparations at makikita na natin ang malaking improvement he said in reference to another meeting with the Jordanians on Wednesday and against Lebanon on Friday and Sunday would be enough to whip the team into competitive form.

"As we saw it, the chemistry is there na, Nangangapa pa nga yung iba, especially those who showed up late. We need a little bit more time,” he assured,

"These games are learning experiences for us. What we want to do or what we want to achieve is to be able to see where our shortcomings are, where our weaknesses are so we can work on them in practices," added the coach.

Assistant coach Caloy Garcia agreed saying, “we don’t need naman to win these tune up games. We need to do this to determine the players we will field against Kazakhstan, which we play on November 30 and who to use against Iran on December 3.”

“Tournament format kasi is we can field a team versus Kazakhstan and another against Iran provided the players will come from the pool we had submitted to FIBA," Garcia disclosed.

Those who played on Monday against Jordan were San Miguel Beer’s Arwind Santos, Christian Standhardinger, Alex Cabagnot and Masrcio Lassiter; Jayson Castro and Troy del Rosario of Talk ‘N Text; Beau Belg and Gabe Norwood of Rain or Shine; Poy Erram of Blackwater and cadet player Ricci Rivero.

Barangay Ginebra's LA Tenorio, Greg Slaughter, Japeth Aguilar, and Scottie Thompson watched from the sidelines after participating in just one practice so far. Stanley Pringle and Paul Lee also sat out. Kai Sotto and Ian Sangalang were not in attendance.

They all are expected to see action on Wednesday.

The Nationals fell behind by as many as 12 points early on, but managed to crawl themselves back and made a game out of it in the homestretch.

The 34-year-old Zaid Abbas scored 10 of his 24 points in the final period, including a three-pointer with 51 seconds remaining to put Jordan up 94-85.

Mousa Al Awarin scored 18 and Amin Abu Hawwas added 14 points and both knocked down crucial baskets during the decisive run in the final period.

Christian Standhardinger led Gilas with 22 points, while Marcio Lassiter added 14.

Gilas fell behind early in the game, and seemed to be adjusting to the physical play of Jordan. Gilas trailed 25-13 during the first eight minutes of the opening period.

This led Guiao to dispatch his four SMBermen -- Santos, Cabagnot, Lassiter and Standhardinger who helped engineer a 15-2 run that turned a 13-point deficit into a 28-25 lead.

Santos took advantage of his length in excelling in defense, blocking three shots, stealing thrice and hauling down five rebounds while contributing five points.

Click here to view a list of other articles written by Eddie Alinea.

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