Philippine national men’s basketball coach Chot Reyes had planned on playing Marcus Douthit limited minutes against Hong Kong, a winless team that had been expected to be an easy assignment.
Instead, Hong Kong played its best game of the tournament, staying within striking distance of Gilas Pilipinas until past the midway mark of the fourth period.
“Hong Kong played a great game. They came in with a great gameplan. But we found a way to grind out this victory,” said Reyes.
“But like I told the players, we’ve been around long enough to know there’s no such thing as a sure thing in sports or in basketball. There’s no such thing as an easy win or a sure win.”
As a result, Douthit played 31 minutes despite still nursing a bruised calf he sustained on Tuesday night against Qatar.
“We didn’t want to play Marcus that many minutes. But a lot of our players weren’t ready tonight. So I had to do what I had to do to make sure that we get that W,” said Reyes.
The Philippines had to win the game to secure the top seed in Group E.
Reyes noted how the injury hobbled Douthit, who finished with 13 points and eight rebounds.
“It affects his explosiveness, his quickness to the ball. That’s why Duncan Reid kept beating him to the offensive boards tonight. That’s not to say Reid is not a great rebounder. He’s an excellent rebounder. They beat us actually on the boards,” said Reyes, whose team gave up 14 offensive rebounds to the smaller Hong Kong squad.
It was the team’s third game in as many nights, and Reyes had wanted to manage the minutes not just of Douthit, but other players nursing ailments like Ranidel De Ocampo.
“With injuries like that, the problem is the soreness. It’s pretty sore. Same thing with Ranidel’s. It’s pretty sore. We wanted to play them, to get some sweat, and get rid of the lactic acid buildup from last night. But the plan was to really play them limited minutes and have June Mar [Fajardo] and Japeth [Aguilar] play more minutes,” said Reyes.
“But like I said, the way the game unfolded dictated otherwise. We ended up playing Marcus and Gabe [Norwood] too many minutes. Luckily we have a break tomorrow so hopefully we’re going to be able to recover before Friday.”
The Philippines will battle Kazakhstan on Friday to start the knockout phase of the tournament.