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MANILA, Philippines – From here on out, Kiefer Ravena hopes the Philippines puts on a united front in support of Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup.
Ravena appealed to fans as head coach Chot Reyes continues to receive jeers from the home crowd, an animosity that heightened during the Philippines’ 90-83 loss to Italy in Group A at the Araneta Coliseum on Tuesday, August 29.
The embattled Reyes got booed during the team introductions, marking another chapter of his icy relationship with fans who have called for his head ever since he took over the coaching reins for the national squad again last year.
Enjoying a promising start, the Filipinos ended the opening quarter with a slim lead before they crumbled in the middle quarters as they finished the group stage with a 0-3 record.
“We need to flip the script and use this crowd as an advantage instead of it causing us to lose focus,” said Ravena in Filipino.
“At the end of the day, we thank everyone who is supporting us. But I hope from this stage on, since [our campaign] is near its end, just support us.”
Gilas Pilipinas needs all the help it can get, especially from its home fans, as it enters the classification phase with hopes of earning an outright berth in the Paris Olympics next year by finishing as the highest-placed Asian team.
Carrying over its 0-3 record to the classification round, the Philippines needs to beat the two bottom squads from Group B, which would likely be South Sudan and China.
“We’ll fight. You have to use this crowd as an advantage, not a disadvantage. That is the reason why we brought this event here,” said Ravena.
Also often criticized like Reyes, Ravena threw his full support for the mentor.
“I’m going to play for my coach ’til the wheels fall off. I have to lead by example, like Japeth and most of the guys who have been here,” he said.
After a one-day break, Gilas Pilipinas will play its first classification match on Thursday, August 31, at the same venue. – Rappler.com