Members of Gilas Pilipinas still have Scottie Thompson’s back despite muffing a pair of crucial free throws during their 90-91 loss to Jordan in the sixth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers late Monday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Thompson, the reigning Philippine Basketball Association Most Valuable Player, shook his head in disappointment after missing the potential go-ahead freebies in the final 30 seconds of their game against a solid Jordanian squad.
He said even if the match hardly changes the fact that they have already qualified for the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup, botching the free throws in front of a massive crowd at the 55-seater Bulacan venue is still a major disappointment.
“Those were the most crucial free throws I took in my entire career. It’s a good thing it happened here although I failed a lot of Filipinos,” said the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel star, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds, and seven assists against Jordan.
“I have to learn from this, especially as I play more games with Gilas.”
Thompson’s Gilas Pilipinas teammates, however, were quick to console Thompson.
Ray Parks, for one, took some of the blame as he also missed a potential game-winner in the dying seconds of the match, where the Filipinos trailed by as many as 25 points before setting up the thrilling finale.
“I should have made the three-point shot, Justin (Brownlee) should have taken the offensive rebound and Scottie his free throws. At the end of the day, it’s just a growing pain. I am excited for what the future holds for this team,” Parks said.
Parks assured Thompson that everything is still alright.
“Scottie is such a great player. It could happen to anybody. We let him know we still trust him. At the end of the day, he’s still part of what we are trying to do. The team is so pure, and we want to represent the country as best as we could,” he said.
Gilas coach Chot Reyes also assured Thompson that he still believes in him and that he won’t miss if ever he will be put in that nerve-wracking situation again.
“I told Scottie not to get down on himself. He wouldn’t have gotten to the free throw if he didn’t rebound it anyway,” Reyes said.
“And like I said, it was also his efforts that he got the offensive rebound, and unfortunately he missed. When it matters, I don’t think Scottie will miss again.”
Naturalized player Brownlee, for his part, believes that Thompson’s performance in the second half, where they rallied from a huge deficit, was more important that those misses from the charity stripe.
“He made some big shots and big plays in his whole career, even in this game. If he hadn’t done some of those plays, we wouldn’t be in this position,” Brownlee said.
“At the end of the day, we know Scottie can make those free throws and we still believe in him.”