It’s time for Gilas Pilipinas to move on from that tough loss to China and focus on winning the next one on Monday, which is actually a make-or-break showdown against the reigning Asian Games champion, South Korea.
Expect coach Yeng Guiao to have his boys ready and out for blood, needing to play smarter and with much more vigor than they did in their last outing.
It has to be a different strategy though, as Korea isn't known for their bigs, but rather their crisp ball movement. On defense, Gilas needs to play man-to-man instead of its usual zone to not give opposing shooters enough space to release or even get an open look. We can't let them capitalize on simple mistakes and break the game wide open.
The thing is, Gilas can actually learn from the Koreans on the offensive side. We're not merely hating on Jordan Clarkson, but him taking too much time with the ball in his hands has got to change. Despite being an NBA-caliber shot creator and probably the best guy on the team, he shouldn't be a black hole. If the threes that Clarkson put up in the third quarter didn't go in, the line "Nice shot, superstar" from his TV ad wouldn't be trending. The squad will have more success in making Korea work harder on defense with high-percentage looks.
Coach Yeng can have Clarkson initiate the play for Gilas, but the latter doesn't have to finish it. There are other capable players on the team that can get buckets like Stanley Pringle, Paul Lee, James Yap, and Maverick Ahanmisi. Hell, even Christian Stanhardinger, JP Erram, Raymond Almazan, and Beau Belga can knock down shots. If they're going to match Korea's playstyle, they'll need to share the wealth a lot more.
One X factor, however, is ex-PBA import and current SoKor naturalized player Ricardo Ratliffe. Although the coaching staff will save time on scouting Ratliffe since they've seen him play already, the 6'8" also has inside information and the same familiarity on former teammates Lee, Yap, and even Clarkson in Missouri.
At the end of the day, Korea is more than just Ratliffe. They have a bunch of guys who can kill you on offense, not to mention their efficent ball rotation. More importantly, this team has no ego and no player has his own agenda on being the top scorer.