MANILA, Philippines—Adelaide 36ers head coach Joey Wright was all smiles even after his team absorbed a loss to the Philippine national basketball team in a tune-up game on Friday night.
The 36ers rallied from a 9-point deficit in the first quarter, and led by a point midway through the final frame. But they had no answer for the Filipinos down the stretch, and Gilas Pilipinas, preparing for the FIBA World Cup, went on to claim a 92-83 triumph.
Despite the loss, Wright — a former PBA import — was satisfied with how his team performed.
"It was a great game for us. Great first game for us. I thought they played a very good basketball game, we really enjoyed it, it was a good game, they executed very well," he said.
The 36ers are preparing for the upcoming season of Australia's National Basketball League, and Wright said the game against Gilas showed how much work his team has to do. They have 6 new players in the team this season, and it showed in how they played.
"They gotta learn how we play the game of basketball, and how we coach, but they're getting there," said Wright. "This is our first game, so I was pretty happy with it."
As for the Filipinos, Wright had nothing but words of praise.
"They play with a lot of heart, a lot of passion. They got some guys that can shoot," said Wright, who once played with Allan Caidic with Presto during his time in the PBA.
"(Andray) Blatche is just an unbelievable player, 18 rebounds and 19 points, he's extremely dominant. He's good enough to try to get them a few wins at the worlds."
Blatche had just missed a triple-double, adding 9 assists to his statline. He helped the Philippines pull away in the final four minutes, drawing defenders to get Roger Pogoy open for back-breaking triples.
The two squads will play another tune-up game on Sunday, and Wright expects another tough, yet entertaining encounter.
"They're gonna try to attack us with Blatche as much as they could. We'll try to make sure we neutralize him a little bit in the second game and probably attack in a few different areas," he said.
"We need to keep working, it's a great game for us, start preparing for the Australian season."
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