Composed mainly of players from the national team's cadet program, our representatives were able to slug it out versus the gutsy Thais, and gut-out a 1-0 record. Tonight, Gilas faces Myanmar, a team that lost its initial outing against the home team, Malaysia.
FHM watched the close match unfold and noticed the following strengths and areas for improvement:
Frontcourt is deceptively small
Don't be fooled by the rebounding deficit (42-50). What Troy Rosario (team-high 16 pts, 10 reb), Christian Standhardinger (15 pts, 10 reb), and even Raymar Jose (six points) lacked in size they made up for with hustle against the taller Thais. Our bigs didn't budge when things got chippy at one point in the game. The Gilas frontline is about to get tougher when Carl Bryan Cruz joins the team tonight.
Guards can only get better
As great as Kiefer Ravena played (11 points), it felt that the rest of the backcourt could have given more. Starting point guard Baser Amer had 10 assists and six points (none more important than the two that came at the 2:45 mark in the 4th), while Mike Tolomia contributed eight markers. Almond Vosotros and Von Pessumal can do something about that six-out-of-20 three-point shooting.
Basketball royalty scratching the surface
Rayray Parks turned out to be the team's best two-way player, scoring 14 and guarding opposing ace Tyler Lamb (fouled out), aside from stealing the ball four times. As for Kobe Paras, his block upon entering the match was his lone highlight—he suited up for only three minutes and 37 seconds. Like Parks, he has to take advantage of his physical gifts, beginning in the defensive end, to earn more burn.
Just give it to Kiefer
The Phenom lived up to his name in the clutch, sparking a 8-0 Gilas run when Thailand took the lead late in the game, 71-69. Ravena made two free throws then an off-balanced jumper, before his teammates sealed the deal. No wonder people were looking for his name in the FIBA Asia Cup 2017 lineup. With the way things are going, Kiefer seems to be better off with his fellow cadets in order to provide stability.