Gilas Pilipinas head coach Yeng Guiao took responsibility for the Philippines' stunning 92-88 loss to Kazakhstan in the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Philippines handed Kazakhstan a 37-point drubbing three months ago in the Asian Games in Jakarta but failed to repeat the feat in front of its home crowd.
Guiao admitted that Gilas' big men were mismatched against the Kazakhs' quicker frontline personnel, who relentlessly attacked the basket while also waxing hot from downtown.
"I'm taking the responsibility for this game," said Guiao. "Everybody in the team was there because I decided that they be there, but we were mismatched in terms of quickness especially with our big men."
Kazakhstan's bigs Alexandr Zhigulin and Anton Bykov proved too much to handle for the Philippines. Zhigulin torched the hoop with a game-high 30 points including six of his team's 12 triples, while Bykov hit the dagger layup and free throws on the way to 20 points.
"I've said this before, if Kazakhstan is able to make their threes, we will be in trouble," said Guiao. "They were 52 percent from the three-point shot and our problem there was that their bigs were the ones making the threes."
"Our bigs could not really step out and challenge those threes because if they extend out long, the quickness of the Kazakh bigs would be emphasized," the coach added. "We will be having a hard time just staying in front of their quick bigs with our own bigs."
Guiao also lamented the fouls that Gilas gave up, which allowed Kazakhstan to finish with a 24-for-34 shooting from the stripe compared to its own 10-of-15 clip.
"It's really the aggressiveness of the Kazakh team that was apparent in attacking the basket and us being drawn to those fouls. We gave up too many free throws," he said.
To address the speed mismatch, Guiao tried to field a small lineup late in the game with June Mar Fajardo as the lone big man on the floor.
"For a while there, I had to play Gabe Norwood at the four just to be able to keep up with the quickness of the Kazakhstan team and still be able to play our game of constant ball movement and trying to keep the game fast," he explained.
In the end, Gilas committed too many defensive lapses that gave Kazakhstan enough ammunition to carve out a win.
With this costly defeat, the Philippines (5-4) lost its chance of earning a share of second place with Iran (6-3) and instead fell to a tie for third place alongside Japan.
Guiao stressed that Gilas needs to quickly recover from this heartbreaking loss, knowing that another tough home game looms on Monday against Iran.
"Of course we're disappointed but we still have one game on Monday," said Guiao. "We can't feel too negative about ourselves. I think we can salvage the situation if we're able to play a good game against Iran and learn the lessons from this game."