My heart was leaping as I watch Smart Gilas 2.0 take an eight-point lead in the final six minutes of the final period.
But the national team started taking hurried attempts and missing free throws in the final period — two no-nos in a short and tough international tournament like the Fiba Asia Cup.
So what appeared to be a big morale-boosting win, suddenly turned into a nightmarish fourth-quarter meltdown, leading to Smart Gilas 2.0’s 71-68 loss to the scrappy China five at the start of the 2012 Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo, Japan.
The Pinoys led, 64-56 halfway through the final period, but the Chinese showed strong resolve, uncorking a crippling 15-4 bomb on the way to the perennial Asian powerhouse’s come-from-behind victory.
But with the way the Filipinos played against the Chinese, taking the lead after falling by as many of 11 points midway in the second period, the national team is slowly learning how to play the dreaded China national team.
Of course, China’s national five in the ongoing Fiba Asia Cup is said to be its so-called “B-Team”, but which, according to reports, is the same team the Chinese government is preparing for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Wow! Talk about Olympic foresight!
On Saturday, Smart Gilas 2.0 gets a second shot at earning its first win in the Fiba Asia Cup when it faces Lebanon, which reigned supreme in the 2010 edition held right at the Lebanese’s capital city Beirut.
Marcus Douthit, Smart Gilas 2.0’s naturalized Filipino, said the national team will bounce back as the Filipinos clash with the favored Lebanese.
The 6’11” Douthit said in his microblogging site Twitter : “Sorry we couldnt get the win tinight but.you bet your ass.this aint no where near done we will bounce back thats what we do!!!” (@DouthitMarcus)
On the other hand, here is Jones Cup hero LA Tenorio’s Tweeter message (@LA_Tenorio) after the loss to China: “Tough loss today against China. Time to refocus and learn from our mistakes and get ready for another big game tom vs Lebanon!”