An anemic performance from beyond the arc doomed Gilas Pilipinas in their Jones Cup showdown against rivals South Korea on Wednesday evening, but head coach Chot Reyes still commended the effort shown by his players.
Despite making only one of their whopping 26 three-pointers against an unforgiving South Korea zone, Gilas Pilipinas still managed to stay within striking distance, even trailing by just four points, 69-73, with still 2:12 left to play.
However, they could not come any closer due in part to their misses from the three-point line, while Korea responded with six straight points to wrap up the victory.
The bitter defeat left the Philippines out of the running for Jones Cup gold.
“I don’t have the stats, but I think we shot 1-of-65 or something from the three-point line,” Reyes said wryly following the game, an 83-72 win for the Korean squad. “We can’t beat a team that zones us if we don’t make our outside shots.”
Indeed, the Gilas guns went completely cold on Wednesday. Jiovani Jalalon was the lone Filipino to make a shot from beyond the arc, with Matthew Wright missing all seven of his attempts after going 11-of-22 in their previous three games.
Roger Pogoy, another usually reliable shooter, missed all five of his shots, and Kiefer Ravena went 0-of-4. Gilas Pilipinas stayed close, thanks in part to the hard work of their big men, Christian Standhardinger and Mike Myers, who combined for 36 points and 22 rebounds.
Still, Reyes said he is mostly satisfied with how the national team showed great fight against Korea, which has been their tormentors in the Asian level for several years now.
“I thought we came out with great effort, and I’m very, very proud of how the guys came out and fought against a very, very good, high quality Korean team,” Reyes said.
“I thought we held our own on defense, and we gave up only 83 points. A lot of those were already free throws in the end, when we were fouling,” he pointed out. “So we essentially held a very good team to 80 points.”
That kind of defensive effort would have usually been enough to guarantee a victory, said Reyes, if only they had made their shots. “Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case,” he added.
“Even with the great game of our big men, the Korean zone just sagged on us and forced us to make our outside shots. Unfortunately, we couldn’t make them, and that was the story of the ball game,” he also said.
“But I can’t take anything away from the effort of the guys,” Reyes stressed. “I thought we fought hard until the very end, got it down to four points with two minutes (left). We just couldn’t make shots.”
The national team can still contend for second place, but must bounce back starting with their game against Iraq on Thursday afternoon.
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