SEVILLE, Spain -- Gilas Pilipinas players looked deadly against the Puerto Ricans on Wednesday when they opened the game with a 17-0 run and seemed on their way to their first victory in the FIBA World Cup of Basketball in Spain.
But Puerto Rico made changes in its game and the Filipinos lost their bearing in the following quarters. Finally in the fourth canto, the game became a Jose Barea show.
Gilas Pilipinas was handed a 73-77 defeat, its fourth since the tournament began on Saturday. The Philippines had similar close losses against Croatia and Argentina.
Former Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio attibuted the defeats to the new environment that Gilas faces. He said the Philippines hasn't competed at a high level of basketball for about 36 years.
"This is brand-new setting for us, we have not experienced something like this, in the global scale," Gregorio told ABS-CBNnews.com. "We did a good a great job against Croatia, we pushed Argentina to the limit, and again we pass up an oppotunity for us to win against the 17th seed team in the world."
"That's how it is, that's the game of basketball. But of course it's painful."
Sports analyst and San Beda team manager Jude Roque agreed. Roque said the team did its home work and the coaching staff even scouted the Puerto Ricans.
But Puerto Rico has regularly been competing in world championships, which is something the Philippines hasn't done since 1978.
Roque said the Puerto Ricans also have a high quality player in Jose Barea, who single-handidly brought down Gilas in the final quarter.
"Sa tingin ko naging maganda naman ang game plan kaya lang sobrang ibang level lang si Barea. I'm sure napaghandaan talaga siya ng coaching staff, scouting pero masyadong magaling eh," he said.
"Si LA [Tenorio] nga nakausap ko after nung game sabi nya, medyo disappointed siya sa sarili niya na dapat pumigil kay Barea. Pero sa palagay ko hindi rin ganoong kadali eh. Madaling sabihin, mahirap gawin."
Roque added that Puerto Rico has been playing as a team for many years, unlike the national team which only got just a month's preparation before the tournament.
"Hindi naman sila taon nagsasama-sama 'di kagaya ng mga kalaban taon na nagsasama," he said.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes himself admitted that the the team's inexperience is one big factor for Wednesday's loss.
He said this may be the reason why Gilas has been "choking" whenever it needs to close out their opponents.
"Every game we played we had the ball in our hands to win the game but we just couldn't deliver. Those are the things you can't get expect through experience, its just perhaps our inexperience in situations like these not only of my players but also of myself as a coach," said Reyes.
"So its just our inexperience in theses situations so again we fought hard, the effort of my players was there but obviously it wasn't enough."