MANILA, Philippines -- National team head coach Tim Cone admitted that Gilas Pilipinas took a bit of a step back on Monday evening, after a 93-89 defeat to San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in a tune-up game at the Meralco Gym.
It was just the second tune-up for Gilas Pilipinas, with less than a month to go before the 30th Southeast Asian Games.
June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, and Japeth Aguilar all had their moments, but the national team could not complete a comeback against the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) side. It was a tough result for Gilas, as they had beaten Alab last week in their first tune-up, 98-95, but could not build on that win.
"I don’t wanna make excuses, but I thought we played a little tired tonight. I didn’t think we had the energy that we had in the last game," said Cone. "They did some things to us that we weren’t prepared for. They did a lot of switching, which we haven’t worked on in our three practices or four practices."
Alab also pounced on the national team's poor transition defense, with Cone noting that their turnovers seemed to result in an automatic layup or an open three-pointer. It did not help that Alab bolstered its roster by playing import Nick King.
"This is a step back," Cone acknowledged.
The multi-titled mentor refused to dwell on the defeat, however, instead focusing on the positives that he saw in the game. He praised the Gilas players for battling despite their exhaustion, and especially for trying hard on the defensive end despite their lack of organization on that end of the floor.
Ultimately, he believes the loss will only compel Gilas to be better.
"I think it's a good step back that we have, so we understand how hard this is gonna be," said Cone. "This is not gonna come easy, and it’s a good message for everybody, and hopefully this is a step back for two steps forward."
"It was a good test for us," he added. "I just hate losing, that's all. Hate it."
The national team played without TNT's Troy Rosario and Ginebra's Greg Slaughter, both of whom are dealing with injuries. Meanwhile, Kiefer Ravena made his debut after joining the Gilas pool last week.
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