LA Tenorio believes all is not lost for Gilas Pilipinas, even after opening the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers with a shocking loss to Kazakhstan.
The Philippines will be facing Asian powerhouse Iran on Monday in a crucial match that could well define the chances of the country's bid for a return trip to the World Cup.
But Tenorio believes the team can simply take inspiration from what happened five years ago when Gilas Pilipinas dropped a stinging 84-79 setback to Chinese Taipei in the FIBA Asia Championship, which served as the qualifier for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
"Remember, the last time the painful loss happened right here in our home was when we lost to Chinese Taipei in the World Cup qualifier. That was the last painful loss we felt at home but then, we all know what happened," Tenorio pointed out.
Following that stunning loss, Gilas went on to beat Japan, Qatar, Jordan and Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals, before knocking out long-time Asian nemesis South Korea in the semifinals to finally punch a ticket to the world stage. The win catapulted the Philippines to the World Cup for the first time since its last stint in 1974.
Tenorio was a member of that Gilas squad of that celebrated Gilas side that went on to snare the silver in the 2013 FIBA Asia men's tournament after losing to Iran in the finals. From there, Gilas advanced to the FIBA World Cup in 2014 with close calls against world powerhouse teams like Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico, before eventually finishing with a lone win when the Philippines defeated Senegal in overtime.
"That loss to Taipei became a wakeup call and we made it to the World Cup. And it might be the same situation for us now because everyone expected us to beat Chinese Taipei. Instead, they came prepared and beat us here," recalled Tenorio, who was a member of that 2013 Gilas team.
"This time around, we are also hoping and believing that we get the same result while try to win at least two out of our next three games to make the World Cup."
Gilas will be facing an Iran team that got humiliated by Australia, 76-47, on Friday in Melbourne. The Aussies booked their 2019 World Cup ticket with that dominating victory, while also strengthening hold of the top spot at Group F with an 8-1 record.
The Iranians remain in second with a 6-3 card, while Gilas is currently third with a 5-4 slate, in a tie with Japan.
Tenorio admitted playing before the home crowd always brings added pressure due to the high expectations, but they simply have to deliver and play aggressive from the get-go against Iran.
"We have to come out aggressive and be focused on our game plan, especially going to the Iran game on Monday," stressed Tenorio, who contributed eight points, a rebound and an assist in their 92-88 defeat to Kazakhstan last Friday.
"There's always pressure when you play for the national team, especially we're playing here at home. There's an added pressure defending our house. But we have to be prepared physically, mentally and emotionally," he added