For the first time during the 2019 FIBA World Cup group stage, Gilas Pilipinas had a chance to win a game.
After trailing by double digits to Angola, the Philippine team was able to force turnovers and hit some timely 3-point shots in the waning moments of the game to put themselves in a position to win in regulation.
CJ Perez, who had carried Gilas in the second half, had the ball with 5.2 seconds left and the score tied at 73. But the Gilas rookie couldn't react and find a way to score and eventually had to put up a shot that had no chance of going in as time expired.
Perez said his inexperience may have contributed to his hesitation: "It was my decision. I was supposed to drive the ball."
Perez was again one of the leading scorers, finishing the game with 17 points and seven rebounds. He had several notable highlights and looked, during one stretch, like the most invincible guy for Gilas. But on that final play, he looked lost.
Coach Yeng Guiao believes what happened at the end of regulation can be attributed to the team's lack of experience on the international scene.
"That's the problem, I guess it's really the inexperience," explained Guiao. "In a situation like that [in the PBA], there's gonna be a timeout and you can get the ball in anybody's hands, and he will have a clear understanding of what he needs to do. But here, there are no timeouts in that situation. Once you get the ball, you're on your own.
"All of us on the bench were shouting 'attack' or 'shoot'. For one reason or another, CJ froze. And also Kiefer [Ravena] was asking for the ball. I know Kiefer was going to attack the basket, he's in that frame of mind. But what happened is CJ chose to linger with the ball and the time ran out."
Despite this play, Perez was satisfied with the team's progression overall throughout the group stage and the effort they showed against Angola.
"We were there in the end. But this [is] basketball .. one team wins, one team loses," said Perez. "I'm proud of the team, especially with coach. Their trust [in me] never wavered even if we made a lot of mistakes."