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SEABA: Chot is not impressed

by Jonas Terrado

Maintaining a high of level of play has become the hardest part of Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign even as it is expected to do the easiest task of running its opponents to the ground in the SEABA Championship.

GILAS center Andray Blatche gives teammate Calvin Abueva a playful headlock following their easy win over Singapore Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB Photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

GILAS center Andray Blatche gives teammate Calvin Abueva a playful headlock following their easy win over Singapore Saturday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. (MB Photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

Gilas won its first two games at the expense of Myanmar and Singapore by a combined margin of 154 points, yet coach Chot Reyes is far from satisfied of what he has seen from his team halfway into the six-day competition.

Against Singapore, Reyes noted that Gilas didn’t do a good job as far as maintaining its intensity in the second half of the 113-66 rout of the Singaporeans at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, unlike in Friday’s 147-40 mastery of Myanmar in the tournament opener.

PBA rookies Matthew Wright of Phoenix and RR Pogoy of TNT KaTropa admitted that keeping expectations high is the most difficult challenge as Gilas tries to raise its game a notch higher for the bigger competitions such as the FIBA Asia Cup and the home-and-away qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.

“We did come out a little flat in the second half. It’s one of those things when you come off a 100-point win and you’re up by 35-40 at halftime, it’s a challenge to stay motivated and to keep the pedal on the gas in the second half, and I thought we came out a little sluggish in the second half,” Wright said.

Pogoy added: “Mahirap maglaro pag underdog ka, mahirap din maglaro pag favorite ka na mas malakas team mo. Challenge din sa amin kung paano namin dadalhin yun.”

Despite struggles as a collective unit, Gilas is glad to see Wright and Pogoy emerge as two of the players that have impressed in their first SEABA stint as PBA standouts.

Wright is averaging 12.5 points, making 9-of-17 shots including six triples. He had 13 points against some of the Singaporean players he faced during his time as the ASEAN Basketball League Heritage MVP for the Westports Malaysia Dragons.

Paying back to the confidence given to him by Reyes, Pogoy posted 13.0 points, 5.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals in the competition, igniting Gilas’ early offense against Myanmar and Singapore.

He accounted for 11 points during the 17-0 start against Myanmar and made six of his nine points during a 11-0 early blitz the next night against Singapore.

“Malaking tulong sa akin yun, dahil kahit bago ako pinastart niya ako sa ganitong liga. Pero iaadmit ko yun na challenge sa akin yun dahil kung di ako machachallenge, di aangat ang laro ko,” said Pogoy.

Gilas was facing Malaysia at presstime looking for its third win before taking a break from the tournament today.

At this point of the tournament, winning seems to be the second thing that worries Gilas.

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