I have to admit, I feel my heart break ever so slightly every time I see news of the Gilas boys being defeated. Ive been a close follower and ardent supporter of the Philippine NT ever since I first watched the San Miguel-centric, Norman Black-coached, National Team lose a close one to the hometown Japanese in the bronze medal game of the 1994 Asian Games.
Now, nearly 20 years later, each loss still stings with the same poignancy.
On the flipside, however, is the fact that each setback also brings with it some lessons the team can use to get better. What follows are reposts of well-written articles by my fellow writer, Mr. Jude Roque, from Yahoo! Philippines. These posts detail the painful learnings our Gilas boys learned from their last two losses in the 2013 Dubai International Basketball tourney.
Al-Ahli Club (UAE) over SMART-Gilas Pilpinas, 97-82 No less than Smart Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes was the first to see the brighter side of the young national teams defeat 82-97 loss to home team Al-Ahli Club last Saturday here at the 24th Dubai International Basketball Championship.
We can learn a lot from this loss, which will help us in the more important games, said Reyes, who mysteriously lost his voice during the first quarter of the game. He had to write some key instructions on the coaching board during timeouts. After an inspiring 79-77 victory over the third best club team in Lebanon, Mouttahed Tripoli, the national squad composed of mostly amateur standouts, got its baptism of fire in international competition when it faced a very aggressive Emirates team. Al-Ahli won the Dubai Club Championship and is beefed up by American imports Cheikh Samb, Leroy Hurd and Leemire Goldwire.
This was the first time Gilas II played against a home team even when the venue was filled with cheering Pinoys.
Right from the get-go, Al Ahli surprised the young nationals with a pesky full-court press that resulted in 11 turnovers for Gilas in the first period alone. Al Ahli was up 26-18 after the first ten minutes. It was the first time that this team, which was assembled in less than two months, encountered a pressing team. Before the Dubai trip, the team only had a couple of tune-up games versus the visiting KL Dragons from Malaysia.
The trend continued in the second canto as Al Ahli went to its switching defense and aggressively denied all passing lanes. This too was a first time for the Gilas cadet team. Even PBA reinforcements KG Canaleta, Ronjay Buenafe and JayR Reyes, and naturalized import Marcus Douthit, struggled against the pesky defense of their opponents. The first half ended with the home team up, 51-32.
In the third period, Gilas went inside after going 4 out of 16 from beyond the arc in the first half. Douthit, Greg Slaughter and Canaleta were able to get some inside points to bridge the gap a little bit in the middle of the third. But 72 Al Ahli import Samb was an imposing figure in the middle, igniting several fast break opportunities for Al Ahli.
In the payoff quarter, Gilas went to its running game and tried to stage a late comeback, but Hurd and Goldwire would repeatedly quell the Philippines rally with hard-earned baskets. There were also some bum calls made by the referees against the visiting squad especially during the attempted comeback.
In the end, Gilas committed 24 turnovers that accounted for 24 points for Al Ahli. The victors also had 15 steals.
Gilas will still enter the quarterfinals despite the loss, and can possibly even top Group B if it defeats Al Riyadi of Jordan tonight. Mouttahed, the team Gilas beat last Friday, won over Al Riyadi Sunday, 81-76. Al Ahli lost to Al Riyadi on opening day.
Here are some valuable lessons from the loss to Al Ahli:
Playing under the spotlight. It seems that the newly formed cadet team succumbs to game jitters in the early goings especially when greeted by the loud and cheering crowd upon entering the court. In the Mouttahed game, Gilas fell behind, 3-18, in the opening period before catching fire in the second quarter to take a 41-40 lead. It was similar in the Al Ahli game except that Gilas turned over the ball too many times to catch its opponents. But this is understandable in the first few games. They should be able to handle this better in the next game.
Playing on hostile grounds. It was not really a home advantage for Al Ahli in terms of crowd support. In fact, it was the exact opposite. Filipinos make up the biggest crowd in this annual joust, which is why the Philippines gets invited regularly. But the unfamiliarity with the gym and the international game has its effects on the team. The officiating is different here from the PBA, D-League, and collegiate leagues in Manila even when they are all guided by the FIBA rules. Here, the officials are not intimidated by the players and coaches whom they see for the first time.
Playing against bigger opponents. In most cases, the Philippines will be the smaller team against teams from East and West Asia. Here in this tournament, the size disadvantage is further enhanced with the presence of towering imports like Samb. Al Riyadi of Lebanon likewise has 72 import Lauren Woods. Domestic players, especially from Lebanon, Jordan, Qatar and Iran, are not only tall, but hefty as well. Quickness, however, should be our advantage.
Playing everyday. In international competitions, games are played daily. These are usually short tournaments that last for a week, or two at most. This means that the team must get accustomed to playing everyday while still having the morning shoot-around and practice. Playing for flag and country is a tough job that allows very little rest.
But having stayed with this batch of Gilas for five days now, I have no doubt that the bitter taste of the defeat to Al Ahli will only make them stronger and more prepared for the coming crucial games.
Al-Riyadi Sporting Aramex (Jordan) over SMART-Gilas Pilipinas, 75-65 The Smart-Gilas Pilipinas cadet team suffered a second straight loss in the 24th Dubai International Basketball Championship at the Al Ahli gym in Dubai Monday, this time at the hands of Al Riyadi Jordan, 65-75.
The younger and smaller Philippine team fought gallantly throughout the game and had several chances to overtake the Jordanian club team in the game. But the dynamic duo of American imports Alpha Bangura and Darrin Dorsey proved too much for Gilas, which fell to third spot in Group B. Bangura, a former PBA import from Air 21, scattered 14 of his game-high 31 markers in the payoff period, dousing the attempted rally of Gilas late in the game.
But the Nationals are still in contention for the championship as they enter the quarterfinals versus the No. 1 club team in Lebanon Dubai Duty Free Al Riyadi Beirut, at 7:00 p.m. Dubai time.
Letran star Kevin Alas led Gilas in scoring with 12 points, followed by Matt Ganuelas with 11, Garvo Lanete with 10, and Marcus Douthit and Ronjay Buenafe with six apiece.
Riyadi led by as many as 15 points, at 59-44, in the fourth quarter. Gilas made a last ditch effort to make a comeback in the last five minutes of play and came to within six points, at 57-63, on four straight free throws by Douthit. But the Jordanians countered with a 6-0 blast to secure the win.
All teams will have a rest day today as the quarterfinals start on Wednesday at the Al Ahli gym.
Coach Chot Reyes met the team in his hotel room an hour after the game and talked about how each player should find the drive to uplift his game. The team will have a field trip to the desert safari later today as a team-building activity.
Blatche Andray 211-F/C-86 Xinjiang FT Jayson Castro William 180-PG-86 Talk N Text Gabe Norwood 196-G/F-85 Rain or Shine June Mar Fajardo 210-C-89 San Miguel Beermen Japeth Aguilar 206-C-85 Barangay Ginebra Ranidel deOcampo 197-F-81 Talk N Text Terrence Bill Romeo 180-PG-92&... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul. The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition. Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expe... [read more]
TURKEY over PHILIPPINES, 103-68 Turkey got the more than easy 103-68 win over Philippines in their preparation game in Istanbul.
The two teams may face each other in the pre-Olympic qualifying tournament in Manila, Philippines, as they start their games in different groups and if this game can be considered a sample, Turkey is at least in much better condition.
Center Semih Erden and forward Baris Hersek with 16 points each were the top scorers of the winners. Furkan Korkmaz who is expected to hear his name in the first round of the upcoming NBA draft, returned to Turkey and scored 5 points. Andray Blatche had 23 points for the losing side and Jayson Williams added 15 points.
ITALY over PHILIPPINES, 106-70 Italy got an easy win over Philippines in the first day of the preparation tournament in Bologna. The final score was 106-70 for the hosts and it was flattering for the guests who were trailing 62-15 before the half time.
The first 20 minutes of action ended with a 41 points advantage for Italy (64-23) which got 20 points by Danilo Gallinari in 15 minutes of action, 14 points by Pietro Aradori who came from the bench and 11 by Marco Bellineli.
Philippines was outplayed in every possible way and Andray Blatche with 21 points was as usual the only brightspot for them.
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory. Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its... [read more]
With the two conferences of the Philippine Basketball Association's (PBA) done with the San Miguel Beermen overcoming the odds from a 3-0 deficit in the finals to win the Philippine Cup title in seven games against the Alaska Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters ruling the Commissioner's Cup against the same Aces, another conference is shaping to be one of the most competitive tournaments in recent memory.
Returning imports showcases the upcoming Governor's Cup which will have its tip-off on July 15.
Asian imports will also be featured in this conference led by the returning Michel Madanly (194-G-81) for the Texters. Phoenix had tapped the services of 6-foot-3 Korean Lee Kwan Hee to bolster its guard-forward rotation.
Here are the complete lineup of reinforcements for all contending teams:
Aris Ignacio is from the Philippines and has always been a big fan of Philippine basketball. Aris' follows the Philippine Basketball Association since the late 80's and has learned the history and personalities of the PBA. He also has interest with other basketball tournaments in the Philippines and beyond most specifically college basketball (UAAP, NCAA), the Asian Basketball League (ABL), FIBA Asia and World Cup tournaments. Follow Aris Ignacio on Twitter at aris_ignacio.
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