Gilas Pilipinas survives PBA Selection in tuneup game

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GOOD thing Wednesday’s game was merely an exhibition and not an actual FIBA (International Basketball Federation Asia game.

If not, according to Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes, his team would have been in a lot of trouble notwithstanding a 99-87 win over a PBA Selection in the tuneup match at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Seemingly sleepwalking for majority of the game, the Nationals woke up only in the fourth quarter to flash the fiery form expected of them and into the cruising win that still failed to please Reyes.

”With one week to go before FIBA Asia there’s absolutely no excuse for the way we played in the first half. It was a terrible, terrible game,” said Reyes, whose charges are in the last stages of their preparations for the continental championship set Aug. 1 to 11.

”If we were up against Chinese Taipei or Jordan, we would have been down 20 at the half,” added Reyes.

Reyes specifically pointed an accusing finger at starting point guard Jayson Castro and first reliever LA Tenorio, who got Gilas off to a bad start. “If you noticed I benched Castro in the second half,” he pointed out.

Jimmy Alapag did put some semblance of order for Gilas and it started to hum more smoothly at about the same time Gabe Norwood, Ranidel de Ocampo, Gary David and June Mar Fajardo finally got their flow.

As a result, the Nationals easily broke off from a 67-66 count through a decisive 27-4 exchange that gave them their biggest lead at 94-70, going into the game’s last four minutes.

De Ocampo wound up with 16 points, while the likes of David, Norwood, Jeff Chan and Marcus Douthit had at least 11 points each for Gilas, which committed a total 21 turnovers.

Reyes can only hope his charges play much better in a similar tuneup game against Kazakhstan today at the Ara-neta Coliseum. ”I hope it’s different Friday,” said Reyes. “It’s only two ways. Either this will get them down or this will get them fired up for Friday. I’m banking on the latter.”

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