MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas played well enough to hack out a slim victory over Alab Pilipinas in a tune-up game on Monday night, but head coach Tim Cone said the national team still has "levels and levels to grow."
June Mar Fajardo took charge in the fourth quarter to power the Philippine national team to a 98-95 triumph over the ASEAN Basketball League side, in what was their first tune-up ahead of the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
"At times we were pretty, and at times, we were really ugly," Cone told reporters after the game, held behind closed doors at the Meralco Gym.
The multi-titled mentor was pleased with the effort shown by the national team, especially as several of them had played in the PBA Governors' Cup the night before.
"They came out and they worked hard. They worked hard on the defensive side, they worked hard on trying to play together, they passed the ball to each other," said Cone.
"They resembled a team," he stressed. "They still got levels and levels to grow, but... needless to say, needless to say, the potential is there."
What's crucial for Gilas Pilipinas, according to Cone, is for them to grow beyond playing like an All-Star squad.
"We gotta bring more than that -- just being a bunch of good players playing together," Cone explained. "That's what All-Star teams are. They bring a bunch of guys, they have limited practice, they go out and they play."
"They don't have any concepts in terms of defense, not really a real desire to play defense. And we wanna get beyond that," he added. "We don't wanna be an All-Star team. We need to be better than that."
Cone acknowledged that against Alab Pilipinas on Monday, Gilas still played like an All-Star team. But with less than a month before the start of the SEA Games, they have time to realize their potential and become more of a real team and less of a "good collection of players."
"That's that's what we were talking about -- getting our guys to try, at this point, try to build on doing the little things and paying attention to detail," said Cone. "Obviously, they're not gonna do it right now, 'cause they haven't got all the details and everything, but the little things that we do do, we want them to do well and focus on."
Gilas plays Alab in another tune-up game next Monday, before taking on a visiting Taiwanese team on November 18.
"Hopefully, we'll be a little better team on Monday," said Cone.
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