Linggo, Pebrero 25, 2018

Philippines vs. Japan - Postscript

When things outside or on road are not good to you, you go home and make things better again.  This exactly what happened with Gilas Pilipinas as the home boys trounced the gallant Japanese at home last night.  But it was not an easy one, not at all.   The Japanese who we've been beating since 2009 did not fall with out swinging.  In fact it has given the host a scare when it blitzed to 20 - 4 lead half of the 1st quarter. And made a valiant last stand few seconds in the game.  The Mall of Asia Arena crowd was eerily silent already thinking of a home town defeat at the hands of the visiting Akatsuki Five.

But thanks to the efforts of youngsters Kiefer Ravena and Troy Rosario whose tandem had literally picked Gilas from slump to just a point deficit at the end of first quarter.  It also helped that Calvin Abueva as always have been the source of contagious energy for the squad.  Time of redemption too for our naturalized big man Andray Blatche as he made the home crowd witness to his best game so far in the on going FIBA World Cup qualifers.  And also as fairy tale'ish as it may seem, the Blur Jason Castro William has saved the best for last anew pouring bucket of ice to Japan's moral by his running off the board shot that sealed the win for us.

Photos from FIBA

But what appears to be the X factor is the tremendous crowd support.  As early as 4PM it was reported that queue out side the arena is already long as fans were prepping for the game. I'd say that fans' reactions last night was louder and more alive compared to 2016's Olympic Qualifying tournament where there were noticeable gaps in cheering for our boys.  And last night was different.  I hope we'll be as boisterous as this when we host the Boomers in July - or maybe even more.  Imagine a jam packed Philippine Arena cheering and shouting for Gilas.  Wow! that's a sight to behold.  This win practically pushes us to the next round where we'll play along with the other top 3 teams on the other group. But we still have 2 games left in the 3rd window, we play at Chinese Taipe on June 29 and then we host the Boomers on July 2

On the other hand, I kind of feel bad for Japan.  As mentioned they have not beaten us in several years now in major Asian tournaments.  Knowing how bad it is being on the losing end makes me understand how they must be feeling.  I also feel for their coach Julio Llamas.  But that's how the ball rolls.  For sure they will be back better and they will continue to be a threat our team.  

For now I'd love to enjoy the feeling of victory even temporarily.  I hope that when our team re-convene sometime in May or June it will have less drama, no injury and more Puso!



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