Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes marveled at the team’s defense as the nationals pulled off a 75-63 payback victory against Senegal on Sunday night in the 2023 Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in China.
With the Filipinos putting premium on their defense, they were able to improve to 2-1 in the pocket tournament aimed to help them prepare for the upcoming 2023 FIBA World Cup slated on August 25.
“All throughout our preparations, our focus really was to improve our defense. Even in the first half, even when we were down, we only gave up 39 points,” Reyes said in the post-game interview.
“And we thought it was defense that kept us close when our offense was struggling. Even in the third quarter.”
CJ Perez led the way for Gilas with 14 points while young guns AJ Edu and Dwight Ramos chipped in 13 and 12 markers apiece.
The win was a revenge of sorts for the Philippines as it fell to the same team last Friday when they fired almost blank in the payoff period, and only Edu and June Mar Fajardo were able to convert field goals in that frame.
They then made sure to bounce back in their second meeting against world no. 37 Senegal and hope to continue the momentum when they eye for a repeat win against Iran on Monday night.
“That’s what defense does, if you play good defense all throughout, it allows you to stay in the game. Hopefully, when you get hot this is what happens,” Reyes added.
“In the fourth quarter, we finally hit some shots. We made some offensive adjustments and we were able to get some good looks. But without our defense, that wouldn’t have not happened.”
—Bea Micaller/JKC, GMA Integrated News