By CARLO ANOLIN
Head coach Nenad Vucinic said Gilas’ tough loss against New Zealand may serve as an eye-opener for the youth-laden squad in terms of the level of basketball it needs heading into the 2023 FIBA World Cup.
“Very tough night for this young team. We have come across a Tall Blacks team that is playing with high intensity and very good execution,” said Vucenic following Gilas’ 106-60 defeat in the third window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers Thursday, June 30 at the EventFinda Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand.
“We struggled to contain them in that part of the game, in the intensity, physicality, and the speed. We struggled really offensively to get things going so it is a good thing for the young team, for the young players to understand what level we need to be, to play at a high level of international basketball.”
Vucinic acknowledged that the Tall Blacks have dominated Gilas in all aspects of the game but such factors would help the national team in “getting better in the future.”
Against New Zealand, Gilas struggled from the field with a miserable 21-of-62 shooting.
The Filipino cagers only drained four three-pointers out of their 26 attempts with Carl Tamayo draining two, while Rhenz Abando and SJ Belangel had one apiece.
Tamayo, who was taken out of the payoff period due to an apparent injury, was the main spark plug for Gilas as he dropped 16 points along with five rebounds while Abando and Francis Lopez added 11 points apiece.
Veterans Dwight Ramos and Kiefer Ravena had 6 points each.
Moving forward, the national team flies back to the Philippines to prepare against India on Sunday, July 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.