Turnovers, strong French guards cost Gilas victory in FIBA OQT opener
MANILA, Philippines – Once again, Gilas Pilipinas came so very close and painfully fell short of taking down a world basketball powerhouse in a big tournament.
The Philippine national men’s basketball team flirted with a potential historical upset against world number 5 France, only to falter and lose by 9, 93-84, in the 2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament late Tuesday night, July 5 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Gilas committed 18 costly turnovers that led to 21 points for the French – many of which came at the worst times during runs against the Filipinos – as well as the Les Bleus’ more experienced and steady guards in Tony Parker and Nando De Colo.
“From our standpoint – Jayson highlighted the turnovers – too many of them were really when we didn’t have possession or organized our offense, whether we were getting quickly into our offense or more methodically into our offense,” Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin explained in the post-game press conference.
“When the offense broke down and we opted not to establish an offensive flow, that’s when we kind of got into problems because we didn’t space the floor well.”
Baldwin emphasized not giving isolation specialists like Andray Blatche enough space to operate and pointed out that lack of space contributed to the miscues.
“We’re an isolation team, we’re going to play a lot of isolation basketball. But we have to give the guys that are on our team – that are excellent as isolation players – the right spacing. When we fail to do that we can’t expect good results.”
The Philippines raced to a good start with Blatche opening things up with a dunk off a turnover and executions flowing well enough to eventually build a 10-point lead in the first quarter. France slowly steadied the ship and regained control of the game from then on.
Gilas inched to within 4 points late in the fourth period but a defensive lapse led to an open Boris Diaw layup that snuffed out the rally.
Big man June Mar Fajardo pointed out the French team’s experience as a factor in the loss.
“Experience-wise mas lamang sila e pero kaya naman makipagsabayan,” he said. “Nagkamali lang kami, lapses lang kami kaunti.” (Experience-wise they’re better than us but we can compete. We just made mistakes, had some lapses.)
Baldwin alluded to this as well.
“We got off to, I thought, a great start and we sustained it. But France is one of those teams that they don’t panic, and they shouldn’t with the players that they have. They just continue to pound away, going to their strengths,” he said, before noting how NBA veteran Parker stabilized France.
“I thought Tony Parker took the game over midway in the second quarter. He and (Boris) Diaw really controlled the game. They used the excellent players around them.”
De Colo led France with 27 points on 9-of-14 shooting to go with 6 rebounds and 3 steals while Parker finished with 21 points on 3 triples along with 6 assists.
“Tony Parker was a handful with the ball screen defense. He exploited it really well, he read our defensive schemes really well. Once we lost the lead we were searching for answers, we made a pretty good run in the fourth quarter and they snuffed it out.”
Despite another loss that was reminiscent of the tough so-near-yet-so-far defeats of the 2014 FIBA World Cup, Baldwin acknowledged the silver lining.
“It was a pretty solid performance from Gilas and is something that if we could just play at this level a lot more I think we’d start turning out good results in games like this.” – Rappler.com