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.
Acibadem Universitesi Istanbul (TBL) tabbed experienced 34-year old American forward Jason Maxiell (201-118kg-83, college: Cincinnati). He played recently at TNT Ka Tropa in Filipino PBA league. In 2005 New Jersey Flyers selected him as second overall pick in USBL draft. The former University of Cincinnati standoutis in his twelfth (!!!) season in pro basketball. Maxiell's team won UAE Federation Cup in 2016. He has played also professionally in China (TianJin Steel), NBA (Detroit Pistons... [read more]
Acibadem Universitesi Istanbul (TBL) tabbed experienced 34-year old American forward Jason Maxiell (201-118kg-83, college: Cincinnati). He played recently at TNT Ka Tropa in Filipino PBA league. In 2005 New Jersey Flyers selected him as second overall pick in USBL draft. The former University of Cincinnati standoutis in his twelfth (!!!) season in pro basketball. Maxiell's team won UAE Federation Cup in 2016. He has played also professionally in China (TianJin Steel), NBA (Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic and Charlotte Hornets) and United Arab Emirates (Al Ahli). Let's have closer look into Maxiell's outlook:
He possesses the combination of good size and advanced strength. Maxiell's armspan combined with his leaping ability enable him to play much taller than his 6-7 height and he is explosive around the basket.
Marcus Simmons (ex Phoenix) signs at Drive - 4 days ago
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Grand Rapids Drive landed 29-year old forward Marcus Simmons (198-98kg-88, college: USC, agency: Interperformances). He played in the summer at Phoenix in Filipino PBA league. In three games he averaged impressive 18.7ppg, 11.0rpg, 4.0apg and 1.0spg. Simmons ended the last season at the Bulls. But the most of that year he spent at another team Fort Wayne Mad Ants where in 49 games he had 6.6ppg, 4.2rpg and 1.6apg. In 2012 (a year after he left the college) Simmons was drafted by Frisco Te... [read more]
Grand Rapids Drive landed 29-year old forward Marcus Simmons (198-98kg-88, college: USC, agency: Interperformances). He played in the summer at Phoenix in Filipino PBA league. In three games he averaged impressive 18.7ppg, 11.0rpg, 4.0apg and 1.0spg. Simmons ended the last season at the Bulls. But the most of that year he spent at another team Fort Wayne Mad Ants where in 49 games he had 6.6ppg, 4.2rpg and 1.6apg. In 2012 (a year after he left the college) Simmons was drafted by Frisco Texas Legends (D-League) in sixth round (88th overall). The former University of Southern California standoutis in his sixth season in pro basketball. Among other achievements Simmons played in the final of D-League in 2015. He received also All-Pac-10 Defensive Player of the Year award back in 2011 at his college time. Simmons has played previously professionally in Japan (Yokohama B-Corsairs) and D-League (Canton Charge).
Fajardo number one in Philippines for round 8 - 5 days ago
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Center June Mar Fajardo (210-C-89) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for top-ranked SM Beermen, receiving a Asia-basket.com Player of the Week award for round 8. The 27-year old player had a double-double of 25 points and 17 rebounds, while his team beat Rain or Shine (#3, 5-3) 107-101. The game was between two of the league's top four teams. It allowed SM Beermen to consolidate first place in the Filipino PBA. SM Beermen have a solid 8-1 record. Fajardo has many years... [read more]
Center June Mar Fajardo (210-C-89) put on an extraordinary performance in the last round for top-ranked SM Beermen, receiving a Asia-basket.com Player of the Week award for round 8. The 27-year old player had a double-double of 25 points and 17 rebounds, while his team beat Rain or Shine (#3, 5-3) 107-101. The game was between two of the league's top four teams. It allowed SM Beermen to consolidate first place in the Filipino PBA. SM Beermen have a solid 8-1 record. Fajardo has many years of experience at SM Beermen, through which he has constantly improved. June Mar Fajardo has solid league stats. He is in league's top in points (3rd best: 20.0ppg) and averages impressive 1.7bpg and 65.5% FGP.
The second best player in last round's games was 24-year old Terrence Bill Romeo (180-PG-92) of league's second-best Globalport. Romeo had a very good evening with 32 points, 5 rebounds and 4 assists. Of course he led Globalport to another comfortable win 110-96 over the lower-ranked NLEX RW (#11, 2-6) being unquestionably team leader. This victory allowed Globalport to move up to second position in the standings. His team's 5-3 record is not bad at all. Romeo is one of the most experienced players at Globalport and has a reputation of one of team's most reliable players. He belongs to the best scorers in the league with 27.6ppg (#1). He also recorded 5.9 assists per game.
Third on the list of top players last round was forward Reynel Hugnatan (193-F-78) of Meralco Bolts (#12). Hugnatan scored 28 points and grabbed six rebounds. Despite Hugnatan's great performance Meralco Bolts lost 92-105 to slightly higher-ranked Mahindra (#10, 2-5). But his team cannot count on just a single shooter as he also needs help of the other teammates. Meralco Bolts can only dream about fighting for top spots in the league. They have extremely bad season and 2-7 record places them at the very bottom of the standings. Too bad for Hugnatan he does not play for a better team. But maybe if he did, his season stats would not be that high. Hugnatan has a very solid season. In 8 games in Philippines he scored 13.0ppg. He also has 5.6rpg, FGP: 51.8% and 3PT: 42.9%.
Other top performing players last week: 4. Calvin Abueva (190-F-88) of Alaska Aces - 23 points, 9 rebounds and 2 assists 5. Vic Manuel (193-F-87) of Alaska Aces - 25 points and 8 rebounds 6. Jayvee Casio (178-PG-86) of Alaska Aces - 23 points, 6 rebounds and 5 assists 7. Arwind Santos (193-F-81) of SM Beermen - 17 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists 8. Mac Belo (190-F-93) of Blackwater - 21 points and 7 rebounds 9. Stanley Pringle (184-PG-87) of Globalport - 20 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists 10. Sean Anthony (193-F-86) of NLEX RW - 16 points, 9 rebounds and 5 assists
The Player of the week is chosen based on efficiency calculation, but also including game result, importance of the game, if played recorded double-double/triple-double, etc. The efficiency formula is a combination of various formulas used by different basketball organizations/leagues. We got involved many basketball scouts and journalists to assure it's accuracy. The formula: 1.5*PTS + 3* (REB+AST+ST+BL-TO) - 2*BSAG - 4*PF + 3*PFRV + 4* (2FGPM+3FGPM) + 1.5*FTM - 3* (2FGPA-2FGPM) - 3* (3FGPA-3FGPM) - (FTA-FTM)
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