The Gilas Cadets have certainly underperformed and underwhelmed in the ongoing 12th Filoil Flying V Preseason Cup presented by Chooks-to-Go. With a 1-5 win-loss record, they have been eliminated from playoff contention with still three games left on their schedule.
Their loss on Tuesday night against the NU Bulldogs was reminiscent of their earlier defeats. After seemingly in control, they would suddenly collapse.
The Cadets' collection of supreme talent could not save them from their demise. Their team defense which boasts of length, versatility, and speed becomes a non-factor in crucial stretches as opposing squads pick them apart. On offense, they become gun shy and team execution would become an afterthought.
Granted they were immediately asked to take on collegiate powerhouses in Ateneo Blue Eagles, DLSU Green Archers, and San Beda Red Lions, and up and coming teams UP Fighting Maroons, Perpertual Help Altas and NU Bulldogs, nobody likes to see a Gilas team struggle.
The losses by the national team have been an eye-sore but nobody is more eager for the Cadets to succeed than Chooks-to-Go president Ronald Mascariñas.
"It's tough on us to see our young players after the games. They're very down and very disappointed," lamented Mascariñas, who has been an adamant supporter of the national team in the last couple of years. "But we always make them realize that every Gilas team starts off this way before learning how to bounce back from adversity."
For Mascariñas and the entire Gilas program, all this is part of the process. The Cadets may be composed of some of the best young talent in the country today, but they are no Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, or Gabe Norwood. At the end of the day, the college standouts must learn to face before they can learn to succeed.
"We joined the preseason tournament not because we want to rack up the wins," Mascariñas who also expressed that even though they want to achieve success being the chief backers of the cadets, they are already looking at the bigger picture.
"Any brand wants a winner but the main purpose of entering this tournament is that we want to give the Cadets an exercise to build brotherhood and for us to see the next step needed for them to grow as a team," he went on.
Despite all the setbacks, Mascariñas reassured the national team that they remain supportive as ever especially with the 2018 Asian Games just around the corner.
"What can we do? Just leave them behind just because of their losses in the (Filoil) Preseason Cup? That's not going to happen," the sports patron encouraged. "We're not going to leave them. The kids need us now more than ever."
The Gilas Cadets will look to end the summer tournament on a positive note when they take on the UE Red Warriors, EAC Generals, and Mapua Cardinals as their last three assignments.