So the Philippines lost to South Korea in what was seen as a heartbreaker and I am not really pissed.
While I fear I might be overdosing on my caffeine, I guess I’m fine with the outcome.
The Gilastopainters lost to China by two and Korea by a whole lot but if there is a takeaway from the recent events… it’s that we should scold everyone who thought Gilas Pilipinas is the only team capable of impressing.
And here’s why.
THE NATURALIZED BIG MAN MYTH
I guess we really need to have guys like Andray Blatche and Marcus Douthit play for us to overcome our gaping hole in the middle. With that said, we may not entirely need a big time behemoth in our corner. Jordan Clarkson is NOT a big man but did you see him fight for loose balls? Here is a guy that only had 47 percent of his games last season grabbing five boards and more… and we were able to keep the game close against China and their behemoths. And as for Ricardo Ratliffe, I guess it sucks that he knows a lot of Philippine basketball. So what am I saying here? If Blatche is unavailable for Gilas duty, we can have Justin Brownlee wear our colors. Brownlee has been Ginebra’s import for the last five conferences and since his entry, he has won three… including the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup – a conference dependent on imports with 6’10 ceiling and less. Brownlee is much, MUCH, less than how he plays and yet… wins follow him like he’s a victory magnet.
BEYOND THE DRIBBLE DRIVE
Yeng Guiao wants his players to score when open… or when ready. We have seen how annoying this offense is, especially during the first half. Chot Reyes’ system is designed to get a player open but for some reason, his players second guess their attacks. All hell breaks loose whenever Chot unleashes his dreaded three-headed small ball monster whereas Yeng Guiao incorporates a traditional PBA approach wherein our bigs pound our way on the inside to collect fouls or use an isolation play for potential drop passes to the bigs or kickouts. Sure, I guess a lot of people hate the X-Men’s Blue and Gold Teams but it makes the Philippines harder to read.
Granted, Stanley Pringle can’t be used during FIBA competitions while Christian Standhardinger’s stint depends on Andray Blatche’s availability. Still… Paul Lee kicked ass like a boss. Beau Belga finally got to play in a major tourney and he did fairly well. Raymond Almazan also came through for the squad. Chris Tiu stood out in limited minutes. And yeah, Poy Erram is a revelation. Lee can replace Terrence Romeo, Erram can fill the void left by Troy Rosario, and perhaps Belga and Almazan can protect the paint now that we’re going to miss the services of June Mar Fajardo. But why stop there! The PBA can still offer the likes of Ginebra’s pint-sized rebounding machine Scottie Thompson and his big bro Greg Slaughter, Alaska’s scoring menace Vic Manuel, Star’s grand slam playmaker Mark Barroca, San Miguel’s trio of Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, and Arwind Santos, and even Northport could give up Sean Anthony.
Almost a month ago, our OFWs in Indonesia almost missed on a chance to see their basketball idols in action. In some ways, the proximity of Indonesia from the Philippines made our matches as if they are fought in our land. But a couple of weeks prior the staging, SBP decided to withdraw our participation – citing our inability to win a medal. It came to the point that the PBA needed the public to just go insane to win their approval. In some ways, I hate writing bad things but even without Gilas Pilipinas, the core of the San Miguel and Ginebra, and Kiefer Ravena because of a shitty FIBA technicality, we still have a lot of players that has pride to represent the country. Telling the public that losing the guys that starred in the brawl is an automatic “GG” is just downright bull. For almost a decade, we have been preaching “puso” and what better time to show your heart than playing with a depleted lineup against all odds. If they thought it was a waste of time to send a team to the Asiad, then other sports officials must be high for sending athletes in athletics, aquatics, and other unwatchable sports like pencak silat and women’s golf… BUT THEN AGAIN WE WON MEDALS FROM THESE SPORTS!!!
Hell, why sign up for the Jones Cup!?!
It will take a six-game stretch of bad luck to drag us to the depths of FIBA Asian Qualifiers hell. Let’s assume that Iran is an unbreakable cookie. Kazakhstan and Qatar are easy pickings with or without a naturalized player and a couple of our mainstays. This is not complacency though… for I am just stating a fact. A potential 8-4 record is a good win-loss record to advance and we must do everything to get this.
And I almost forgot about the last awesome thing the Gilastopainters gave to Gilas Pilipinas – and it is zero complacency. Whether it’s Yeng Guiao… or Coach Tab Baldwin for that matter, Chot Reyes and his boys can find their selves in the outs especially if this experience leads to something awesome as the second leg of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers commence. While I am ruling out on a coaching change, I can see Gilas having a separate squad like how Chinese Taipei has two clubs in the Jones Cup or how China suited up 30 players in the first leg of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers.