Shortly after leading the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas national team to a 75-68 victory over Chinese Taipei in the FIBA Asia Cup quarterfinals, coach Chot Reyes took to Twitter to express his sentiments about the game.
“Not pretty at all. Our rust showed. But at least we found a way,” he wrote.
The Philippine team was coming off a two-day break, and the lack of action showed right in the first quarter, which saw SMART-Gilas trailing 13-10.
The squad got its bearings in the second quarter, pouring in 28 points to take a 38-32 halftime advantage. Chinese Taipei inched closer after the break on the heroics of Taiwanese-American swingman Douglas Creighton, but a strong start in the fourth quarter gave SMART-Gilas an insurmountable edge.
The Filipinos shot 42 percent from the field, but just 29 percent from the three-point line (7-of-24). And while SMART-Gilas took a 50-31 rebounding advantage, the team was uncharacteristically sloppy, turning the ball over a whopping 21 times.
With the victory over Chinese Taipei, SMART-Gilas moved into the semifinal round, where it faces Iran on Friday. For Reyes, the team’s performance against the Taiwanese won’t cut it against the West Asian powerhouse.
“We need to play a LOT better to have a chance vs Iran tomorrow,” he said.
Iran remains the only undefeated team in the tournament, after sweeping Group B of the competition and dispatching lowly Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals. The Iranians have added motivation as it tries to avenge its 77-75 loss to SMART-Gilas in the 34th William Jones Cup last month.