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Chot glad to finally see fruits of labor

CHOT Reyes is convinced that Gilas Pilipinas' dominant win over Ivory Coast in their tune-up match on Friday night was a product of the lessons the Filipinos learned during their Europe training camp and participation in the China pocket tournament.

Playing with energy and fervor, Gilas rode on the charged-up first-quarter offense of Utah Jazz star Jordan Clarkson before veteran World Cup big man June Mar Fajardo, AJ Edu and Kai Sotto collaborated for the rest of the game, along with Scottie Thompson as the Filipinos flattened Ivory Coast, 85-62, in their closed-door friendly match at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Jordan Clarkson (right) FIBA PHOTO

A 25-9 fourth-quarter exchange proved lethal for Gilas, which turned the table against the African national squad.

Gilas shot 55.6 percent from the floor in the game, had more rebounds, 37-33, and played better team work as evidenced by its 19-9 assists advantage.

Defensively, the Filipinos were razor-sharp after limiting the Ivorians to just 36.4 percent shooting in the game.

But if there's one aspect Gilas needs to work on, it's learning to take care of the basketball.

And Reyes knows it well after looking at the stats sheet.

“There were still some kinks defensively, the turnovers, because it's the first time we played complete in the roster,” said Reyes, noting the presence of Clarkson and Sotto, who didn't join Gilas in Europe and China.

“We have to keep working on that [turnovers]. But I was very pleased with the defense, especially in the second half. We really worked on that [defense] in Europe and in China,” he added.

Clarkson brought so much on the table with his playmaking and scoring that saw the 2021 NBA Sixth Man score all 13 of his points in the opening quarter that helped Gilas go ahead, 27-24.

Ivory Coast's Slovenian head coach Dejan Prokic had glowing words for Gilas, which will face Angola in the group stage match of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

“Philippine is a very good team, Clarkson is an exceptional player,” Prokic said after the game. “They have a very good coach, they used what they have, they're quite bigger than us, and today they used it a lot. So, I think Angola should not be a question.”

The Filipinos though can't get too high against the Ivorians, ranked 42nd in the world, since up next in the second of their three friendly games is Montenegro, ranked 20th in the world this Sunday in another closed-door match.

Montenegro will be led by Chicago Bulls veteran center Nikola Vucevic.

Credit belongs to : www.manilatimes.net

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