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Blame game on

The early exit of Gilas Pilipinas in the Manila leg of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) has sparked raging debates as to the causes of its ill-fated campaign.

A day after New Zealand slammed the door on Gilas’ ambitious Rio Games bid via an 89-80 win, Gilas coach Tab Baldwin blamed the little preparation they had for the tournament for the defeat.

Some self-styled experts, including a politician, blamed it to the non-inclusion of do-it-all little forward Calvin Abueva.

And yesterday assistant coach Alex Compton said the weight of playing two straight games proved too heavy for Gilas to endure.

Having a rest day after playing in the opener could have saved Gilas from falling down.

“I think that would have been more favorable to us,” said Compton, coach of the Alaska Aces in the PBA.

“But that’s the luck of the draw. It’s random,” said Compton, who is one of five assistant coaches of Tab Baldwin.

“The SBP would know that. I don’t. But you accept the schedule that comes. I think that was the draw.”

Although the Philippines, via the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, won one of the three hosting rights of the OQT, it was not given a favor with regards to the grouping and schedule of games by FIBA.

The national team opened its OQT campaign opposite France headed by NBA superstar point guard Tony Parker last Tuesday at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

With that opportunity to compete against the world No. 5 ranked France squad, Gilas obviously gave everything it got in front of a packed MOA Arena crowd that included President Duterte.

The national team lost the match, 93-84, but earned the respect of Parker and his fellow NBA players including former Spurs teammate and now Utah Jazz member Boris Diaw and Nicolas Batum of the Charlotte Hornets.

However, by the time the Filipinos played New Zealand last Wednesday, it was obvious that Gilas didn’t have the kind of energy to start the game against the Kiwis as it did against the French team.

The national team fell behind by as many as 13 points (37-50) in the third period, and although the Filipinas rallied back to cut the deficit to 60-72 with seven minutes to play, it fell short against the Tall Blacks.