MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas coach Nenad Vucinic was hardly in the mood to pore over any encouraging signs in the Philippines’ 106-60 beatdown at the hands of New Zealand in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday.
“It’s very hard to find positives with such a heavy loss,” he said shortly after the clash at Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland.
“I don’t think there was any point in focusing on the positives. We have to eliminate the negative things that we had tonight,” he added.
The Nationals were roughed up early into the contest. A laughable second quarter compounded Gilas’ woes, eventually burying them to holes as deep as 46 points and ultimately dooming the Filipinos to a 1-2 record in Group A play.
“A very tough night for this young team,” said Vucinic, who is calling the shots on an interim basis.
“We have come across a Tall Blacks team that displayed a high intensity and very good execution. We struggled to contain them in that part of the game—physicality, intensity, and speed. And we struggled really offensively to get things going.”
Carl Tamayo starred for Gilas, putting up 16 points and five rebounds until he was plucked from the game in the fourth period due to a sprained ankle.
Rhenz Abando chipped in 11 more into the scoring effort, which was frosty to say the least.
Gilas shot just 34 percent from the field against the hosts’ 50 percent. It also hurt that the Filipinos were missing the injured Ange Kouame, the Philippines’ 6-foot-11 naturalized player who could have helped address the discrepancy in size.
The only thing Vucinic and the Nationals are clinging to as they board the plane and endure a grueling 18-hour trip back to Manila where they will host India this Sunday is that they now know just how perfect they have to be able to go toe-to-toe against other countries.
“It is a good thing for the young players to understand what level now we need to be at [in order] to play at a high level in international basketball,” he said.
“The Tall Blacks have dominated us in all aspects of the game. And that’s something that will help us to get better in the future,” he added.
The Philippines will shoot for a repeat over India when they tangle 7 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Gilas beat the Indians by 24 points in their first meeting. But with Vucinic crew girding for Tamayo’s absence, the results could be a little different.
“It’s very hard to see that in three days he’ll be able to recover. And if he does recover and puts a jersey on, he’s probably not gonna be as effective as he would be without an injury. So other players need to be stepping up,” he said.
“We know we know we came with three guys playing the forward position. Now we’re down to two,” he added with a nervous chuckle. “So it’s difficult. But again, we don’t want excuses. We want to try to have a good game and have a chance to win on Sunday.”
NEW ZEALAND 106 — Prewster 15, Delany 14, Ngatai 12, Rusbatch 12, Webster 11, Ili 10, Vodanovich 8, Britt 7, Cameron 6, Smith-Milner 5, Timmins 4, Harris 2.
PHILIPPINES 60 — Tamayo 16, Abando 11, Lopez 8, Ramos 6, Ravena 6, Quiambao 4, Belangel 3, Chiu 2, Navarro 2, Abarrientos 2, Ildefonso 0.
Quarterscores: 23-13, 47-21, 73-43, 106-60.
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