Kazakhstan coach Renatas Kurilionokas was intense all throughout his team's shocking 92-88 win over Gilas Pilipinas in their fifth window match in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers on Friday.
The youthful coach reacted to a play every time, hollering from the sidelines and barking instructions to his players during a tense-filled match. He pumped his fist after every great play as the Kazakhs delivered when it mattered most.
Kurilionokas's team had lost its last four games in the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers entering Friday's crucial match. Fortunately for the coach, Kazakhstan did just enough to eke out a win.
"For me, yes I had the motivation because I want to play every game good and help my national team. For me, every game is important," Kurilionokas said in halting English. "Every game, we need to show and we need to win."
Big man Alexandr Zhigulin stretched the floor and knocked down six triples on the way to a game-high 30 points. Kazakhstan, as a team, went 12-of-23 from downtown, taking advantage of Gilas' weakness on defense.
The win resuscitated Kazakhstan's FIBA World Cup bid after improving to 4-5 in Group F standings.
After his team lost badly to the Philippines in the 2018 Asian Games, Kurilionokas said he's happy that things were different this time, noting they got enough rest as compared to their experience in Jakarta.
"We had a different flight, different condition, and at that time, we didn't have time to prepare, but (now) we're winners," he said with a big smile.
Kurilionokas also admitted he had a soft spot for the Philippines, pointing out the country's hospitality and warm smiles they received from Filipinos during their brief stay in Manila.
"I like this country and where we stayed. Everybody loved and helped us. The people, they always smile, always want to help. I want to say thank you really," he said.