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Gilas could only get better

It’s a young team built around 6-foot-10 AJ Edu and 7-foot-3 Sotto with other players under-30 like Dwight Ramos, Rhenz Abando and Jamie Malonzo.

You could understand the feeling of this basketball-crazy nation.

Four games into the FIBA Basketball World Cup and Gilas Pilipinas has yet to notch a victory, putting itself in a situation where it needs to win at all cost in its final classification round assignment against China to avoid another winless campaign.

As expected, the bashers were busy on social media like zombies who are willing to engage in a war of words even though Gilas Pilipinas had done everything to put its best foot forward.

It’s exhausting. It’s not helping. It’s demoralizing.

Enough of the hate.

It’s true, the Filipinos remained winless. But they refused to roll out the red carpet against teams who are bigger, more superior in the World Cup. They made a game out of it in all those four matches and had put themselves in a good position to win several times.

They just couldn’t sustain it and it seems that most of the players are still used to playing in a 48-minute game as proven by Gilas’ late-quarter outbursts.

A FIBA-sanctioned match is only good for 40 minutes.

But Gilas were not the only team that was taking a hit among Asian countries as countries like China and Iran were also struggling to get a win.

Prior to Thursday night’s game, Japan was the only Asian country that was able to pick up a win until it came up with another victory — an 86-77 decision over Venezuela then China pulled off an 83-76 triumph over Angola and Lebanon carved out a 94-84 conquest of Ivory Coast.

No excuses, Gilas could have done better and we could only wish circumstances could have been different like National Basketball Association star Jordan Clarkson and Kai Sotto could have joined their training early.

Now, their only way of salvaging some measure of pride is to come up with a good lasting impression by pulling off a win over archrival China in their last classification match on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Looking at the trend of their games, Gilas have yet to peak in this high level tournament but the coaching staff headed by Chot Reyes is now beginning to visualize the future of the team.

It’s a young team built around 6-foot-10 AJ Edu and 7-foot-3 Sotto with other players under-30 like Dwight Ramos, Rhenz Abando and Jamie Malonzo.

We’re now beginning to see some sort of a passing of the torch in Gilas frontcourt as June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar are about to wind down their respective careers in the international arena. Both of them are already playing in their FIBA World Cup but could still be a big part of their next campaign in the Asian Games.

Ramos has become the most consistent local performer. Roger Pogoy has put up some good games. Abando and Malonzo’s high-wire acts brought so much energy to the squad while Kiefer Ravena — no matter what people say about him — showed his tremendous basketball IQ.

And with a chemistry guy in Justin Brownlee coming back healthier, Gilas could only get better.

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