Obviously, head coach Yeng Guiao and his charges got a lot of things right and they deserve tons of credit for it. However, the Filipino ballers also committed several mistakes. Moving forward—as we get ready to see Team Philippines with NBA player Jordan Clarkson take on a much tougher adversary in China—it would serve us best to first, zero in on the biggest takeaways from Gilas' impressive, but not flawless, Asiad debut.
First, the positives (aka the things Gilas needs to keep up)
Stan the man
Stanley Pringle, the guy whom former Gilas coach Tab Baldwin unabashedly called the best guard in Asia, scored a game-high 18 points, as he proved to be too quick, too explosive, and too skilled for his defenders. Pringle shined without Jordan Clarkson, and he must continue to shine even as the Cavs guard joins in. If Stanley and JC could co-exist, Gilas would definitely have the best backcourt in the tournament. Clarkson and Pringle tearing up the open floor might even provide enough firepower for Philippines to keep in pace or maybe outdo the likes of China, Korea, and Iran.
For a group that was put together in a hurry, this Yeng Guiao-led Gilas team played like a cohesive unit, which was unimaginable before this game considering the limited preparation time they were given. From the onset, the boys seemed to know their respective roles. It was clear who the gunners were, who the playmakers were, and who belonged in the supporting cast. As a result, Gilas had a lot of fluidity moving on both ends of the floor. Hopefully the harmonious play remains when Clarkson enters the picture.
Gilas showed how pesky they could be on defense. Led by Maverick Ahanmisi and Gabe Norwood, the team accumulated 16 steals—most resulting in the 29 points that Gilas scored off turnovers. Grit and hustle when it comes to stopping the ball and terrorizing the passing lanes can be Gilas' calling card on D. They'll surely need more of that as the competition intensifies from this point on.
Following Pringle in the scoring department were Christian Standhardinger (15), James Yap (12), Paul Lee (10), and Chris Tiu (9). What's impressive about this is that their buckets came in bunches. Standhardinger did most of his damage in the second half as he perpetually tried to bulldoze his way into the paint. Yap looked like the James Yap of old in the second quarter and again for a couple of minutes in the third period. Lee went off in the fourth, hitting three straight three-pointers. As for Tiu, he was able to hit the target most of the time he was unmanned. It would be great for Gilas if these scorers could deliver such scoring spurts game after game as they can easily shift momentums or break games wide open. We encourage all of them to keep on shooting their shot even upon the arrival of their main man.
Now, the negatives (aka the things Gilas must fix)
Too much fouling
If we had 20 pesos for every time "Dr. J" Andy Jao said "unnecessary foul," we'd be able to treat ourselves to three straight nights of unli-Samgyeopsal. In the first half, Gilas got to the penalty early due to silly fouls that must've had Coach Yeng fuming from within. Luckily for Gilas, the Kazakhs channeled their inner Dwight Howard, as they bricked most of their free-throws. In the end, Kazakhstan shot 17 out 31 FTs to Gilas' 14 out of 24. An error like this against a team that's excellent at the stripe could be fatal.
What more could we possibly want from a team that just held their opponents to 59 points? Well, it was evident that Gilas unintentionally gave up too many open shots from the three-point area. And they only avoided the consequences because the Kazakhs shot a measly 18% from long distance. Hopefully, Coach Yeng would address this problem because if they don't, China will undoubtedly make it rain in the next game.
Team Philippines was very lucky, the refs didn't catch the elbow Raymond Alamazan threw right into the kisser of a Kazakh player after a rough rebound battle during the first half. Those types of plays are nothing but a distraction from the team's ultimate goal, which is to win and represent the country with pride and honor. If this Gilas squad would want to leave a mark in these Asian Games, they'd want that mark to be about their basketball skills and passion for the game, not about hardwood thuggery. Because of the PH-AUS brawl in the FIBA Qualifiers, the country has some sort of target on its back in this tourney, there's no need to compound the problem by taking after what had happened in the unfortunate incident. To Coach Yeng, Raymond and his teammates, wag na init ulo, please!
Having said all of that, let's go Gilas, let's go Clarkson, let's go for the upset versus China!