By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
It was a nightmare for the Gilas Pilipinas men’s national basketball team.
Going straight into battle with a banged-up roster composed of young cadets, the national team received a drubbing 46-point loss to New Zealand, 106-60, in their opening game of the 2022 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
There was nothing that the Filipinos could do in the grueling 40-minute massacre as New Zealand proved to be the stronger and more determined team in the duel.
New Zealand’s suffocating defense caused a lot of problems for the Filipinos in executing their offensive sets and immediately took the lead from the get-go.
Things became worse for the young Gilas squad after shooting a poor percentage from the field and failed to win a single quarter including a disappointing eight-point production in the second quarter.
University of the Philippines (UP) Fighting Maroons’ power forward Carl Tamayo was the only steady contributor for the national team and scored a team-high 16 points while grabbing five rebounds.
However, head coach Nenad Vucinic and the rest of Gilas will face tougher assignments in their remaining scheduled games after Tamayo went down in the final canto with a suspected ankle injury.
The scoring machine swingman had to limp his way going to the bench and failed to return in the last five minutes of the ball game that caused Gilas’ offense to turn cold.
Gilas staff is yet to confirm if Tamayo can suit up against India on July 3 and 15, Lebanon on July 13, and a rematch against the Tall Blacks on July 17.
“Very tough night for this young team. We came across a Tall Blacks team that displayed a high intensity and very good execution,” said coach Vucinic.
Rhenz Abando from Colegio de San Juan de Letran is the only player who also scored in double-digits aside from Tamayo with 11 points while Gilas veteran and senior Kiefer Ravena struggled from the field and only chipped in six points.