Gilas Pilipinas' quarterfinal game last night was one of the loudest local games in recent memory, with cheers, jeers, and a whole lot of “Gary! Gary! Gary!”
Our national squad has just given Kazakhstan a clobbering, 88-58, to move on to the semis for a date with South Korea. The victory, and the very fashion with which it was achieved, has made a lot of people happy. To which we say: Go on, enjoy the moment and spam our social feeds with congratulatory messages because things like these are rare and truly worthy of a fist pump.
Tomorrow, we fight again, this time with an opponent that will present a bigger challenge: The Koreans can shoot, like to push the ball, and move the ball well, too. They're just like us, only a little bit bigger.
That’s why that 30-point victory is important. A big win like that, where all the gears in the Gilas Pilipinas system seemingly clicking all at once, will give us a massive boost in confidence, and momentum.
Here now’s a list of what we want to see more of in the semis matchup with South Korea—a victory over whom will mean a ticket to the FIBA World Cup in 2014.
More Gary David
At long last, El Granada exploded. And when he’s on, he’s on. He scored a total of 22 points, including a scorching run in the first quarter that really set the table for the rest of the game. David, a streak shooter, is divine when he finds his touch—and what perfect timing to finally find it! Having another sniper we can rely on along with Jeff Chan and Larry Fonacier, and one who can just explode without warning is going to change the tone of the next few games.
We hope we didn’t just jinx him.
That suffocating defense
While David is representative of the Gilas’ scorching shooting performance during the quarters, what we really can’t forget is how the team played some really hard D. They were active in the passing lanes that resulted in tipped balls and easy baskets, and nothing easy was given under the rim. But the most important thing here is that the defensive tone was established early, and often. The Kazakh bigs even missed a few gimmes inside, looking like they were too wary of a Japeth Aguilar or a Marcus Douthit block.
Jayson Castro’s sharp interception in the third that led to an easy layup was a turning point in the game. It got a listless crowd screaming, and the rest is history. The full-court press they unleashed seemed exhausting to pull off, even for seasoned athletes. But we might need more of it against the Koreans. This team’s heart is sure to be tested in the next game.
NEXT: Let's push it, more Gabe, and the importance of Bossing!