IT will take time before Team Pilipinas develop its character and endgame maturity, something which was lacking in a 78-70 heartbreaker against Iran Monday night in the FIBA World Cup qualifier.
Coach Yeng Guiao believed the lack of time playing together as a unit surfaced at the most inappropriate time for the Filipinos, who failed to execute in the homestretch of their crucial match-up with the Iranians at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The national team was outscored by the opposition, 9-0, in the final 54 seconds to suffer back-to-back losses at home in the fifth window, and in trouble of missing a berth in next year's World Cup in China.
"Towards the endgame, I felt it's the lack of maturity of our team. It's not as cohesive as we want it to be at this point," said Guiao following the sorry loss that dropped the team to third place in Group F with an even 5-5 record.
The team assembled by Guiao out of the 20-man training pool has barely played together for a month and the result showed in the twin setback against Iran and Kazakhstan in a four-day stretch.
It's not that the effort wasn't there, according to Guiao.
"The guys tried their best. I knew and I saw that they were giving their best," he said. "But at the crucial point of the game, we made some bad decisions and some crucial breaks."
Like the Kazakhstan game, the national coach again lamented his team gave up too many fouls against Iran, which he attributed to the team not being accustomed to the way officiating is done in FIBA sanctioned tournaments.
Team Pilipinas gave up 33 free throws against Iran and 34 to Kazakhstan.
"We don't know how certain calls were made in the international game, but that's something we should be responsible for it, we should be able to adapt. I think that's very crucial," he said.
With Japan whipping Kazakhstan on the same day, 86-70, to jump into solo third place at 6-4, behind Iran (7-3), the window of opportunity is becoming tight for Team Pilipinas.
But Guiao still likes the chances of his team no matter how stacked the odds are against it.
"I still feel that this is a good team. I still feel this is a strong team. The chances are slimmer going to the World Cup, but I still feel it's doable. Kaya pa rin natin," he said.(RG)