The recently concluded 34th William Jones Cup started without much fanfare. With barely three weeks to prepare, no one was expecting the Philippine team, Smart Gilas 2.0, to shine in the tournament, let alone win the entire thing. But after a string of victories and a classic final game we are now in familiar territory: hoping that this latest revamp of our national team could be our ticket back to Asian basketball dominance.
Exciting as it was to watch Pinoys win an international tournament, we think there are still a lot of questions that need to be answered. Such as:
1. If included in the roster, will the Extra Rice Brothers (Rain Or Shine’s Beau Belga and JR Quiňahan) have the same effect on international play as the Bash Brothers did in the Mighty Ducks movies?
2. Why is Enrico Villanueva the only San Miguel Corporation player on the roster? Is it because he’s the best SMC player? (Actually, we already know the answer to this one: He’s definitely not. It’s just that the other SMC players didn’t want to commit to this national team.)
3. Is the guy with the crazy hair (his name is Matt Ganuela Roserr) our secret weapon?
Hopefully, these questions will be answered in the near future. After all, the Jones Cup—and the succeeding tournaments Smart Gilas 2.0 will play at—was more of a practice run than anything else. The real war will be staged next year, when we duke it out against our Asian brothers at the FIBA-Asia Tournament. The top three finishers there will earn the right to play at the 2014 World Championships in Spain.
In the meantime, here are some observations (both from our crazy minds and the more basketball-knowledgeable minds of the Smart Gilas players and coaches) after watching the Jones Cup:
1. We’re beginning to look like the Hobbits of Asian basketball.
In basketball, there really is no substitute for height. “Sa international competition, lahat malaki. Tayo ang pinakamaliit,” says wingman Garvo Lanete.
“Kulang tayo sa malalaking players,” adds three-point specialist Jeff Chan. “Napapansin ko madalas tayong talo sa rebounds. Tapos lahat pa ng big man ng kalaban, tumitira sa labas. We need to get bigs who can jump and spread the floor like [former national team players] Arwind Santos or Kelly Williams.”
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