Updates on Gilas-Pilipinas’ Lithuania stint
By Eddie Alinea
Mon, 10 Jun 2013
MANILA (PNA) – The potentials the Philippine team seeks to unfurl in its bid to recapture old glory the country once enjoyed in the Asian and world basketball scenes looks to be, slowly but surely, shaping up in the Gilas-Pilipinas national training pool’s on-going stint in the Lithuania training camp in the City of Klaipeda in that Baltic Republic.
Members of the national pool, all 13 of them, have not only been responding well to the training regimen they are undergoing in the camp, coach Chot Reyes’ boys have, so far, won the first two games of the six lined up for them in their two-week stay in that Lithuania’s third biggest city.
The Nationals first disposed off Klaipedos Neptunas, 81-76, barely two days following their arrival on Wednesday in the first official, full-length contest they played since they were named in the pool three months ago.
Two days later last Friday, the Nationals fashioned out another come-from-behind 74-63 triumph over a tall but speedy Birstono Jazz-Diremta in a rather unexpected 2-0 start of their build up games leading to the 27th FIBA-Asia championship the country is hosting Aug. 1-11 in the hope of ending up at least third top qualify to the 2004 World Championship set in Spain.
The pair of encounters were both tough and grueling where the Filipino struggled at the start only to recover later in the contest to salvage the twin victories. Both results though did not surprise Reyes and team manager Butch Aquino, who both expected how the games would have gone.
“With this being the first time that our team played (with a ) complete (line up), versus an international team, we expected it to be tough,” Reyes told the PHILIPPINES NEWS AGENCY in a text message after the game against Klaipedos Neptunas.
“But overall, we are satisfied,” he added. “Klaipedos Neptunas is a very tall team and a third place finisher in the Baltic professional league. The fact that we held on to them all throughout the contest and won augurs well to our preparations.”
“I expected the boys to struggle. They did, especially at the beginning of the game,” Antonio, for his part, said. “What is good is that we were able to correct ourselves as the game progressed. What is evident is the determination of the boys to get better and better as the camp goes on.”
Unlike in their first outing when the Nationals needed only two quarters to settle down, Gilas trailed most of the time in their second times up against the Jazz and, according to Antonio, only their never-say-die attitude saved them from suffering their first defeat.
For obvious reasons, Reyes refused to divulge the “secret” weapon he designed to pull of a two-game success, except to say that speed was it that made the Nationals come back from the brink of defeats.
He also did not mention who the best performers were among his boys, except to say that “everybody played and played well.”
“Everybody played according to the roles we drawn up for them to do, no exception,” he assured.
After a week here and following a two-game sweep, both Reyes and Antonio assessed the exercise is worth trying and that, true top the words of the head coach, the final composition of the team might be finalized after the camp.
That is if the Nationals continue to respond well to the rigors of the training regimen prepared for them and their performance in their next four games, including a pair against the Lithuanian Under-20 squad.
Under the revised schedule, the Filipinos play Kaunas LSU Baltai next before facing the Lithuanian under-20 twice in-a-row in what probably their toughest assignments in their preparations in Klaipeda.
If the pre-planned schedule will have to be followed, the National battle Kaunas Baltai anew in their last outing there before flying home middle of this month.
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