Play well against a superior team, get the fans’ hopes up, then play terrible against a mid-level opponent on a supposedly winnable game. Rinse and repeat.

Such has been the case for Gilas Pilipinas, which is sadder when you realise it’s the best it has gone because it’s either that or they are getting steamrolled by whoever.

After a solid showing against the Karl-Anthony Towns-led Dominican Republic this past Friday, Philippines took its seemingly patented step back in the ensuing game as they lost a crucial battle to Angola, 80-70. With that, of course, the road has become even tougher as their morale and body language are down and will now have to win against a talented Italy squad just to have a chance to stay alive. The key word there is “chance” because Angola must also lose vs. the Dominicans.

Errors, errors, and more errors

Where do we even start? There’s simply too many factors to mention. First, there’s the overreliance on Jordan Clarkson, who had countless isolation plays and took 22 shots while no one had more than nine – his efficiency was also an issue as he only made seven of those attempts (31.8%). Then again, maybe no other teammate had assertion because with 21 points, he’s also the lone man to reach double figures.

Next, there’s ball protection and transition defense. Philippines had 15 turnovers (4 in the 4Q), and gave up 10 steals to Angola, who then produced 17 fastbreak points off that effort. PH, in turn, only had two steals and scored just four on the fastbreak – even worse, the other steal and two fastbreak points didn’t come until late in the final period.

It gets more frustrating when you realize they still surprisingly had a chance as it was close heading into the fourth quarter with the score at 56-52 in favour of Angola, but then, Gilas just proceeded to shoot themselves in the foot again.

The terrible start to the fourth quarter, where everyone is expected to be laser-focused, is what ultimately killed the Philippines. Angola raced into a 17-5 run in the first six minutes of the period, highlighted by two threes by Gerson Concalves, and it proved to be enough. 

Gilas did have a strong, 8-0 run that made it interesting for a few possessions, but it was too late, especially since there were a handful of wasted possessions that just went nowhere. They blanked from three in the quarter, going 0-of-6.

Angola’s other Gerson, Gerson Domingos, then buried PH with his own trifecta with only 47 seconds remaining to push the lead back to eight, 76-68. It was indeed ‘night, night’ after that.

What’s next?

Gilas still has a pulse in the World Cup, but if you’re a diehard fan, it’s smarter not to invest too much passion on the team because the obvious changes that’s needed is not likely to come. Whether you like Chot Reyes or not, he simply has to go, because he has been at the helm too long. It’s not even about him being incompetent. The team and simply needs fresher eyes and schemes. Reyes has been coaching since the early 1990s, when more than half of the guys on the Gilas squad weren’t even born yet, and he has shown progress for years.

Then again, it has to start at the top brass, and we all know those guys aren’t going anywhere.