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The reality check has been harsh… But it's worth it!
KUALA LUMPUR (Mageshwaran's AsiaScope) - There was a time when FIBA Asia teams were counted in the 'wins' column by the rest of the fray even before a tournament began. The 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup has shown that it can no longer be the case.
Be it the Philippines who have made "Puso" as popular as Ole and Hop, the two mascots of the FIBA Basketball World Cup, online and in Spain and the rest of the basketball world; be it the Iranians whose players are being closely watched by the NBA scouts; or the Koreans who provoked a question: "Can they dunk!?"
The simple message from Asian teams at Spain 2014 is: "We are here not just making up the numbers."
Asian teams have lost, but certainly are not defeated. On the scoreboard, yes, the opponents have scored more than them. But surely only after these "rivals" have had to stretch every sinew to score more.
The Philippines undoubtedly have been the most conspicuous. That they would be one of the most supported teams was well known even before the event began, but during the event the Gilas brand of basketball has caught the attention, and won the hearts, of even all those who doubted their presence in Spain.
The most significant comment coming out of the Philippines camp was not one of pride and arrogance, but one of humility.
"I just have to be a better coach in the future, I guess," Philippines coach Chot Reyes said after the heartbreaking defeat to Argentina.
"Personally, as a coach, I just have to be able to get better shots for my team in endgame situations," he said.
"We had a chance to win the game against Croatia, we didn't get it done."
"We had a chance to win the game tonight (against Argentina), we had a shot to win the game, and I couldn't get my players a good shot. That's why I’m very disappointed," Reyes added.
Refreshing and welcoming indeed when the Talk N Text master coach even if he had chosen to speak with pride for just being here. Bravo Chot! Proud of you for being that perennial student of the game.
Iran, it must be conceded, are punching heavy, but punching way above their weight.
Lined up against teams that are traditional powerhouses, not just strong basketball teams, Iran's efforts look paler - compared to the Philippines - on the scoreboard. But then let's also not forget that the games are not blow-outs at least. I also do believe that Iran were better scouted.
One game against Slovenia, when they were as close by one point is good enough to show Korea's intensity and intent at the FIBA Basketball World Cup. That despite the growing demand back home to use FIBA's flagship event as only sparring platform for the 2014 Asian Games to be held in Incheon, Korea from Sept 19-Oct 4.
There are two more games for each of these teams, at the time of writing this, left in the FIBA Basketball World Cup. Surely they’ll keep their heads high at the end of each of those games.
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