Beating either world power France or New Zealand in its 2-game preliminary assignment in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament is a tall order indeed for Gilas Pilipinas.
But as far as Fil-Am guard Gabe Norwood is concerned, everything they’ve worked on the past one month boils down to execution and sticking to the game plan.
“We kinda played a little bit smart though we had a lot of turnovers,” Norwood told media men, moments after Gilas fell short of its endgame rally to bow to Turkey, 84-76, in their final practice game Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 6-5 Norwood said he’s pleased to see everyone stay focused and rotate quick on defense, which prevented Turkey from pulling away.
The Turks did manage to erect a 14-point spread entering the final 2 minutes, before Terrence Romeo rattled in 8 unanswered points to narrow down the gap at 76-82.
Turkey though proved steadier in the end.
“I think it still speaks of progress. We didn’t take a step backwards,” Norwood added, citing the team’s marked improvement compared to the 103-68 shellacking the Filipinos had last week against this same Turkish side in Istanbul.
A noted defensive stopper with Rain or Shine in the PBA, the veteran national mainstay stressed the importance of playing at their absolute best next week as they vie for the lone Olympic ticket at stake in the Olympic qualifier here in Manila.
“The game all comes down to communicating and picking out spots because teams out there like France and New Zealand are just too good in this level,” he said. – By Richard Dy
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