FIBA World Cup

Long way to go for Gilas after pair of wins vs Ukraine U20, says Chot

Delfin Dioquino

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Long way to go for Gilas after pair of wins vs Ukraine U20, says Chot

DRIBBLE. Chris Newsome in action for Gilas Pilipinas in its FIBA World Cup buildup in Estonia.

Marita Brigitta Mones/Estonian Basketball Association

Gilas Pilipinas wins back-to-back games in its FIBA World Cup buildup as it repeats over the Ukraine Under-20 squad

MANILA, Philippines – Even head coach Chot Reyes admits Gilas Pilipinas is still far from its best form.

Reyes, though, believes his wards are slowly getting there as the Philippines won back-to-back games in its FIBA World Cup buildup following an 84-74 win over the Ukraine Under-20 squad in Kaunas, Lithuania, on Sunday, July 2.

The Filipinos split their first four tuneup games, losing their first two against Estonia and Finland before earning two straight wins against the young Ukrainian crew.

“We’re still a long ways off. But we are not programmed to be at the top level at this point. This is part of the learning process,” said Reyes.

“Overall, I think the four games we’ve played have delivered what we expected for us to be able to learn a lot about each other, to be able to learn what we need to work on, and get us into competitive shape while playing against quality competition.”

Justin Brownlee starred in the Philippines’ second encounter with Ukraine with 21 points and 8 rebounds, while CJ Perez chalked up 14 points, 4 assists, 4 rebounds, and 2 steals.

Six-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo chimed in 9 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, and 1 block in just under 13 minutes as he and fellow big man Japeth Aguilar continue to make strides after recently recovering from injuries.

Aguilar – who saw action for a team-high 27:45 minutes – and Fajardo are expected to play crucial roles for Gilas Pilipinas, owing to their international experience as they both donned the national colors in the two previous World Cups.

“These guys were coming off injuries, they were nowhere near competitive basketball shape. Little by little, we’re seeing now their legs coming back, their conditioning,” said Reyes.

“For me, that is the most fundamental of all fundamentals – stamina and conditioning.”

More games are in store for the Filipinos as they go up against a selection team from Lithuania on Tuesday, July 4.

“Every game is a learning experience for us. We should be able to pick up lessons and continuously move forward,” said Reyes. –

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.