Team captain Isaac Go is glad that Gilas Pilipinas was able to exceed expectations in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers as evident with its three victories, including twice against old rival South Korea.
Go said their performance is a testament to how Gilas was able to maximize the time it had in the months leading up to the final phase of the continental qualifiers.
“I think it shows how much we’ve worked and how much we’ve put in and that if given enough preparation, any team can be competitive,” said Go, who is aware that many expected the youthful Gilas squad to encounter problems against the South Koreans.
But Gilas was able to win all of its pair of meetings with the country’s old nemesis, winning 81-78 on SJ Belangel’s three-pointer and getting the necessary breaks in the end with an 82-77 decision.
“I think a lot of people didn’t think of us being competitive with Korea because Korea will put an A-team, they’re gonna put their pros,” the former Ateneo center said. “I think on paper, if you look at it, I think people are gonna say ‘Yeah, we’ll pick Korea to win the game.
“But it shows that if you give a team enough time to prepare…we had…I don’t know how many bubbles to prepare for this, to get together, to know one another. There are factors there that you can’t put aside and (it) shows that given enough time and preparation you can be competitive,” added the soft-spoken 6-foot-7 cager.
Gilas held numerous training bubbles amid numerous postponements of the third window due to the COVID-19 situation, perhaps allowing the squad to familiarize themselves even more with coach Tab Baldwin’s system.
As Gilas shifts its focus on next week’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade against host Serbia and Dominican Republic, Go said Gilas has plenty of upside moving forward despite some kinks that need to be ironed out.
“I think the sky’s the limit because we’re just starting together, we’re starting to get to know one another even better. And as we develop into a more cohesive team, we’ll be able to read more,” he said.
“As you can see maybe, there’s misreads on the court, there’s a little bit of disconnect at times and it’s only through time that you can build the synergy. So I’m really excited for what the future holds for us.”