FIBA: 'Very hard to find positives' after Gilas' loss, admits coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 30 2022 07:52 PM

FIBA.basketball
Gilas Pilipinas coach Nenad Vučinić at the sidelines of their game against New Zealand. FIBA.basketball

Gilas Pilipinas coach Nenad Vučinić was blunt in his assessment of their performance against New Zealand on Thursday night, admitting that there was little to be pleased about after a big loss.

The young Gilas squad fell behind early and lost, 106-60, to the Tall Blacks at the EventFinda Stadium in Auckland, the second time that they lost to New Zealand in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers.

"Very tough night for this young team," Vučinić said after the game, which saw Gilas Pilipinas drop to 1-2 in Group A of the qualifiers. "We have come across a Tall Blacks team that is playing with high intensity and very good execution."

"We struggled to contain them in that part of the game, in the physicality, the intensity and the speed. And we struggled, really, offensively, to get things going," he added.

Gilas had very few answers for a bigger, more experienced New Zealand squad that imposed their will early, out-muscling the Filipinos for offensive rebounds and pressuring their ball-handlers.

The Philippines committed 19 turnovers in the game, which New Zealand converted to 32 points. The Tall Blacks' 14 offensive rebounds led to 17 second-chance points. Of their 106 points, 52 came inside the paint.

"It's very hard to find positives with such a heavy loss," Vučinić admitted. "I don't think there is any point focusing on positives."

Gilas was a clear underdog heading into the game, as they only had 11 players available with naturalized big man Ange Kouame ruled out due to a knee injury. His absence was clearly felt, as the New Zealand bigs had their way inside the shaded lane.

"The Tall Blacks have dominated us in all aspects of the game," said Vučinić.

If there was one positive that the coach highlighted, it was that his young group was able to see the difference in their levels, and what is necessary for them to work on.

"It is a good thing for the young team, for the young players to understand what level we need to be at, to play at a high level in international basketball," he said. "It will help us to get better in the future."

The Filipinos have little time to dwell on the result, as they are set to fly back to Manila early Friday. On Sunday, they return to FIBA action, hosting India at the Mall of Asia Arena in their final game of the first round of the qualifiers.