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MANILA, Philippines – Chot Reyes conceded Gilas Pilipinas simply failed to get the job done as he shouldered the blame for a forgettable FIBA World Cup campaign.
The Philippines remained winless in the World Cup and bowed out of the race for an outright Paris Olympics berth after a gut-wrenching 87-68 defeat to South Sudan at the start of the classification phase at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, August 31.
Pitted against a weary South Sudan side that played back-to-back games, the Filipinos still fell behind by double digits early and ran out of steam in their second-half comeback as they slumped to their fourth straight loss.
“This was the time for us to win, to execute. The learnings were supposed to happen way back. This was the time for us to win and execute, and we did not get the job done,” said Reyes.
In the lead-up to the World Cup, Reyes tabbed the Olympics as the realistic goal for the national team in the World Cup, with the highest-placing Asian squad advancing directly to the Paris Games.
But with each stinging defeat, the Filipinos saw their Olympic hopes wane.
The final blow came against South Sudan as the Philippines officially crashed out of contention for the Paris slot, with Japan inching closer to the reward after turning back Venezuela in Group O in Okinawa to improve to 2-2.
Reyes, who apologized to Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas chairman emeritus Manny V. Pangilinan after the group stage, said there is no one to blame but himself.
“I’ve already said I’m really sorry that we were not able to deliver and I take full accountability. I take full responsibility,” said the embattled mentor.
As disappointing as the World Cup has turned out for Gilas Pilipinas, Reyes said their campaign is pivotal in the maturity of young guns like Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, and Kai Sotto.
Ramos leads all Filipino locals in scoring with 13.8 points on top of 5.8 rebounds and 1.5 steals, Edu averages a near double-double of 9 points and 8.3 rebounds, while Sotto norms 4.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, and 1 block.
“They definitely grew as a group from this experience and learned a lot. There is a lot to look forward for those guys.”
In an attempt to salvage its pride, Gilas Pilipinas looks to end the World Cup on a high note as it renews its rivalry with China on Saturday, September 2, at the same venue. – Rappler.com