After two scary wins, Gilas Pilipinas should be given ample time to prepare when it faces powerhouse Australia in the World Cup Asian qualifiers early next year.
This was the call of Manny V. Pangilinan, Chairman Emeritus of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to the stakeholders following the pulsating wins by Gilas over Japan and Taiwan.
Gilas prepared for just three weeks against their regional rivals reason why they struggled.
“If we’re going to get serious about competing against Australia, we have to give enough time for the team to jell,” said Pangilinan as the Philippines rallied back to beat a Taipei, 90-83,Monday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Frankly, I thought they were a bit rusty in Tokyo, and you saw tonight (against Taipei). We won’t get that kind of chance (to regroup against Australia). The team needs – I don’t know I’m not the coach – I would like to think some months to prepare for the competition. Otherwise, our chances are not good,” added Pangilinan.
Like its game against Taipei, the national team struggled too versus Japan before it escaped with a 77-71 victory in Tokyo last Friday.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes only got his complete 15-man roster Nov. 3 as training camp started for Gilas, and naturalized player Andray Blatche joined the national team a few days before the Japan game due to conflict of schedule with his Chinese club team.
Gilas and Australia sport identical 2-0 cards in Group B after the first round of preliminary action in the qualifiers, while Taipei and Japan carry similar 0-2 records.
Australia will host the Philippines on Feb. 22 then the national team takes on Japan anew on Feb. 25, this time at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena on Pasay City.
Despite the struggles, Pangilinan said he’s very much pleased with the results.
“Given the circumstances under which the team was formed, of course I’m very proud of the team,” Pangilinan, president of the local basketball federation from 2007 to 2016. “I’m very happy for them (Gilas players and coaches).”