FOSHAN - The Philippines took another loss in the FIBA World Cup against Angola on Wednesday. There were chances to win the game in regulation and overtime, but Gilas was unable to properly execute when it mattered most.
Overall, the national team holds a 0-3 record, which will be carried over into the classification stage of the tournament in Beijing. Though they failed to advance to the next round, the chance of nabbing the automatic Olympic spot remains alive after China lost to Venezuela -- which Gilas will use as motivation throughout the rest of the competition.
"That's very much a part of the motivation. We go to Beijing with that in mind now," said Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao. "We also want to improve our ranking. Whichever way we can, whichever possibility is achievable, we'll go for it. Especially now when the guys are getting comfortable playing at this stage."
In the classification stage, Gilas is grouped with Angola, Iran and Tunisia, but will only play the Group C teams. They'll need to sweep their last two games and hope the other Asian countries drop theirs to have a shot at the Olympic berth, which will be given to the highest-ranked Asian team at the end of the tournament.
Fortunately for Gilas, they already know what to expect from Iran, which has been one of their regular foes in the international scene.
"Going into Beijing, we're looking forward to playing teams that might be around our level of play. I know Iran is going to be there. But we're used to playing [Iran] and we know how to play them in Asia, so we're looking at better games in Beijing."
For that to happen, Gilas will need more superb performances from CJ Perez and Andray Blatche. Guiao had nothing but praise for the two who were instrumental in the close loss to Angola, combining for 40 points and 18 rebounds.
"[CJ is] incredible," said Guiao. "CJ played like a veteran, actually played better than some of the veterans, [but] he had some rookie mistakes... Overall he played a good series [of games] here, and we haven't seen his full potential yet. We'll see a lot more of CJ Perez."
"[Andray] played a lot better. The effort was there. Of course, they were also attacking him defensively. Understandably he's going to be a focal point of the game plan of the other team. Despite that, he produced his numbers today which was not the case in the last two games. We're happy with that. If Blatche is playing well, we have a chance, which is exactly what happened [against Angola]," he added.
Gilas may still be winless, but they have shown improvement as each day of the tournament goes by. For Guiao, that's one of the positives they can bring into the classification stage where there's still something important at stake.
"We're getting better," said Guiao. "We're able to get used to this kind of competition. It's different from Asian basketball, it's different from PBA basketball. We just need immersion. The longer you play in this situation, the better you get. And that was something we did not have coming here."
Gilas takes on Tunisia first on Friday, before facing Iran on Sunday.