05 - 10
July 2016
Turkey (TUR) v Philippines, 21 June
to read

Heart and focus called into question as Philippines fall hard to Turkey

ISTANBUL (2016 FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournaments) - Turkey are No. 8 in the FIBA World Ranking, a full 20 places higher than the Philippines.

With that in mind, their 103-68 demolition of the Filipinos in Istanbul on Tuesday may have come as no surprise to some in the international basketball community.

The Philippines aspire to be a leading nation, though, and not just in Asia. They want to be regulars at FIBA Basketball World Cups, and also reach Olympic Games.

The heavy defeat to Turkey should, therefore, serve as a wake-up call for the players who are getting ready for the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in Manila. The outcome of the game should also serve as a reminder that the Turks have every right to be ambitious as they take aim at winning the OQT and reaching the Rio de Janeiro Games.

Turkey could be the team with the best chance of winning the Manila OQT because when they are turning on all cylinders, as was the case on Tuesday, they are extremely difficult to beat.

Remember how well the national team played at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup against the United States? Turkey lost that game, yet made it all the way to the Quarter-Finals and only exited the competition after fading in the fourth quarter of a 73-61 defeat to Lithuania.

The Philippines also played well at the World Cup, even if they didn't go beyond the Group Phase. They will need to show the same sort of fire and intensity if they are going to be successful at the OQT.

That's why the Philippines' performance against Turkey drew the ire of Gilas coach Tab Baldwin.

"Don't fall for that mentality that we're the underdog and that there's nothing to lose," he said. "There is always something to lose. You have self-respect to lose and you have the respect of the fans and of each other, that you've rightfully earned, to lose.

"Let's not fall back on that underdog thing and accept that everyone's just better than us. Maybe they are, but they aren't that much better. And we are not as bad as how we looked earlier."

Ergin Ataman (TUR) coached Turkey to a big win over the Philippines on Tuesday

With that in mind, Baldwin will be looking for a better effort, one with more determination and fight than what he witnessed on Tuesday, when the teams meet again on 1 July in Manila - four days before the start of the OQT.

The key to this (OQT) tournament is we have to start strong. We have to be the aggressors because we are the underdogs so we have to fight right away. - LA Tenorio

The players were their own critics after the loss to Turkey.

"We cannot give up on possessions no matter what the score is," Gilas forward Gabe Norwood said. "We need to keep fighting. We're all guilty. I'm guilty. I'm not going to lie to myself. We need to keep fighting no matter what the score is."

LA Tenorio, who like Norwood played against higher-ranked opposition at the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, games in which the Philippines were far more competitive, agreed with his teammate. He questioned the Gilas players' concentration.

"We have to start focusing not only when we are here in the locker room," he said. "We need to start the night before the game. This is not the Asian level anymore.

"We need to take a look at our mental preparation. All of us need to be ready. The key to this (OQT) tournament is we have to start strong. We have to be the aggressors because we are the underdogs so we have to fight right away."

At the OQT, the Philippines will play in Group B against France and New Zealand while Turkey will be in Group A with Senegal and Canada.