A ROSTER packed with enough talent to get the job done.
That is how practically all observers look at the Gilas Pilipinas team aiming to put the country back on the world basketball stage through the FIBA Asia Championship set Aug. 1 to 11 at the MOA Arena and Ninoy Aquino Stadium.
No less than well-traveled coach Rajko Toroman heads those who opined the Nationals have the depth, shooting touch, height and speed and quickness that should earn them one of the top three tickets the continental tourney is offering for the World Cup next year in Spain.
“We have everything,” said the Serb who steered the Philippine team to a fourth place finish in the 2011 edition of the Asian tourney.
“We have the size, the speed, shooters and, having been together for three months now, chemistry,” added Toroman.
Indeed, Gilas coach Chot Reyes’ team is one of the tallest national squads ever with a frontline led by 6-11 Marcus Douthit, 6-10 June Mar Fajardo and 6-10 Japeth Aguilar. Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris and Gabe Norwood stand at least 6-5 while the likes of Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, Jayson Castro provide the flash and Larry Fonacier, Gary David and Jeff Chan are sure to lead in the sniping department.
With such a stacked arsenal, Reyes’ focus of late has been on how to defend the likes of defending champion China, Iran and the other Middle Eastern teams, which boast of much taller and heftier players, and the speedier crews from Korea and Chinese-Taipei.
That is where agility and quickness come in, as Reyes himself had previously laid bare when he started naming his pool last February.
“We need to be very versatile, we can play up-tempo, we can go down low if we need to. But we have to have a lot of speed, quickness and athleticism and a lot of outside shooting,” said and I think the lineup bears that.”
Tim Cone, whose Centennial Team won the bronze in the 1998 Asian Games, said the presence of Alapag, Castro and Tenorio in Gilas should put pressure on the opposing teams on both ends of the floor.
“I will say I’m not surprised. I expected them to keep their three point guards because I know Chot Reyes likes to play small at times,” said Cone upon learning of Reyes’ final lineup bared last Thursday.
“He can play them at same time, put a hard pressure on the other team and all are great shooters,” added Cone. “They also have the opportunity to go big. I think Japeth gave them a little bit more athleticism, length and quickness on the floor.”
For coach Yeng Guiao, who can’t help but compare the current RP Team to the one he mentored in the 2009 FIBA Asia, there are several factors going Reyes’ team’s way.
“Expectedly, they should be able to address the size differential better and they also have a lot of outside shooters, so that is another concern that has been addressed,” said Guiao.
The Middle eastern teams’ slow turnover of talent should also work in Gilas’ favor, added Guiao.
“Iyung mga regular superstars or key players nila mas matanda kesa sa atin dahil nga mas mabagal ang pag-ikot ng talent nila, di kasing-bilis ng China, Japan, Korea or the Philippines,” noted Guiao.
“So I think it will just be a matter of some psychological or mental questions na lang on our part, but nandiyan din ang homecourt advantage kaya all signs are pointing towards the attainment of our objective,” noted Guiao.(pr)