By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE 18th Asian Games campaigns of the Philippine women’s volleyball and men’s basketball teams in Indonesia officially came to an end on Saturday and Friday, respectively, with both looking at them with some regrets, believing they could have done better, but nonetheless determined to make full use of the lessons they got moving forward.
After the battle smoke cleared, the Philippine volleybelles wound at eighth place in the field of 11 nations in the tournament topped by China.
The team won one match against Hong Kong in its seven games and lost to host Indonesia, 3-1, in the battle for seventh place on Saturday.
The Philippines, however, made a strong run for the battle for fifth in its consolation clash with Kazakhstan a day prior, stretching the latter to five sets before bowing down by the slimmest of margins, 11-25, 25-22, 15-25, 25-19 and 14-16.
“Too bad, breaks didn’t go our way,” national team coach Shaq Delos Santos surmised after the tough loss against Kazakhstan.
“But it’s okay. Our purpose here is to gain experience and compete against the best teams in Asia. The fact that we managed to drag Kazakhstan to five sets is a good sign of our progress,” he added.
The coach went on to say that their journey continues after the Asian Games and that they hope to build on the gains they got from their two-week campaign.
“We will not stop. We’re just starting the national team program. Our training and exposure in other major tournaments would definitely continue,” he said.
“After this, we’ll be going to the AVC Asian Cup. Again, our hopes are high. I hope the team would carry all the lessons they gained here and show improvement when we face other Asian teams again in Thailand,” added Mr. Delos Santos, whose Asian Games team was led by the likes of Alyssa Valdez, Jaja Santiago, Kim Fajardo, Aby Marano, and Cha Cruz.
For the men’s basketball team, meanwhile, it, too, rued the could-have-beens in its just-concluded Asian Games bid but instead chose not to focus too much on them but rather on the positives, including having the chance to play with a National Basketball Association-caliber player like Filipino-American Jordan Clarkson.
“Of course there is some regret. Our game against China [in the preliminary round], had we pulled it off we could have been playing for a gold medal. Our game against Korea [in the quarterfinals], in the fourth quarter they just got the breaks in the offensive rebounds which they turned to big baskets. But overall we are happy with our showing,” said national team coach Yeng Guiao upon their return from Indonesia after their journey ended on Friday.
The Philippines had winnable games against China and South Korea before losing, 82-80, in group play, and, 91-82, in the quarterfinals, respectively.
But the team bounced back with very convincing victories over Japan and Syria in the consolation clashes, winning by an average margin of 43.5 points, to finish fifth in the tournament, which eventually won by China over Iran.
“Playing with Jordan Clarkson was a great experience. It’s not just his ability to play but who he is as a person. He is very grounded despite his stature as an NBA player and he is very Filipino. We enjoyed playing with him and so did he,” said Mr. Guiao of their experience with Mr. Clarkson, who plays for the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA.
“He (Clarkson), too, shared our regret of not being able to vie for a medal but we all realized that we can compete against China and Korea. We were not able to go up against Iran but we will see what we can do against it on September 13,” said Mr. Guiao, referring to the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers second round where the Philippines faces off first with Iran.
Mr. Guiao was named to handle the FIBA World Cup qualifier team in place of Chot Reyes, who is serving a suspension following a brawl involving the Philippines and Australia on July 2.
Meanwhile, as of this writing, the Philippines was to end its campaign at the 18th Asian Games with the triathlon athletes seeing action.
The Philippines stood at 19th place with four gold, two silver and 15 bronze medals, as of noon on Sunday.
The closing ceremonies for the quadrennial continental sporting meet, which took place in Jakarta and Palembang, were to take place later yesterday.