(Ed note: This is also a rejoinder to our August 26 print edition. It was mentioned in our print edition that the bracket where the Philippines belonged was supposed to be an easier path to the finals. Actually it is not. A review of the letters assigned to the groupings showed that it was the other way around. The Gilas Boys are to met the powerhouses of Asia to bag the championship)
Whether Joseller “Yeng” Guiao, the head coach for the Philippine Basketball Team playing for the 2018 Asian Games, knew exactly what he was saying, the words he blurted immediately after the 82-80 heartbreaker against China actually makes it head-scratcher, if taken literally.
“I don’t see this as a loss,” Guiao was quoted in a post-game interview.
It was made in reference to superb efforts and efficiency that his troops displayed during the game.
Their performance, of course, was indeed a valiant effort. The way they hang in with the Chinese was not to be ashamed of. Truth to be told, we could be talking differently had the breaks in the last two minutes favored Gilas.
But the thing is, the heartbreaking loss that the Philippine team suffered against China, coupled with their victory over Kazakhstan, is something more than just the efforts of the guys. I’m sure they would want a chance to replay those sequences in the dying minutes.
As what many opined, facing South Korea in the quarterfinals instead of Thailand is more than just facing probably our greatest Asian nemesis, it puts our team at the roughest route possible
By losing to China, we are now to face South Korea in the quarterfinals and Iran or Japan in the semis; instead of facing Thailand in the quarterfinals and Chinese Taipei or Syria in the semis.
This is because of the tournament format.
We already know that the quarterfinal matches will pit winner of Group A (South Korea) and the Runner-up of Group D (the Philippines).
The other match in Philippines’ bracket will involve the Winner of Group B (Iran) against the Runner-up of Group C (Japan).
On the other hand, China (Group D Winner) will face Thailand (Group A Runner-up) with the other match being Winner of Group C (Chinese Taipei) vs the Runner-up of Group B (Syria)
These match-ups shows the Philippines should have gotten a very good break here had they won their match against China.
By losing, we drew probably our greatest basket nemesis in Asia, who is seeded #1 in this tournament, early in the playoffs.
If we hurdle them, it is most likely that giants Iran and China will be facing us.
The only positive thing in this is we drew the best match-up amongst the three in the quarterfinals, giving us the best possible chance to advance.
Granted, the Koreans are second to none in Asia when it comes to utilizing the three point range, they are also our best match-up size-wise. Their tallest player in this tournament is 6’7”, which is not so gigantic in relation to the Philippines’ line-up.
Noticing how the Gilas executed box out patterns during the Chinese and how Christian Standhardinger and Stanley Pringle drove the lane makes me feel we have the edge in terms of inside presence.
If Guiao finds a way to employ feasible defensive schemes that can limit the damage of Korea’s lethal long bombs and dictate the ownership of the paint, we will have a lot less to worry about.
I feel the number of ball possessions and control of the boards will play big role in determining the winner of this game, and that we have the edge which Guiao should exploit.
We don’t have this luxury against China or Iran.
We saw how we struggled to get recover possessions from missed shots and prevent offensive rebounds against China because of our size disadvantage. Iran will probably be the same case.
I like how we would face opponents of our size in the quarterfinals and before seeing a giant in the semis and in the finals if we reach that far.
The Philippine squad squandered a five-point lead in the dying minutes of the game, and got the heartbreak loss as the Paul Lee’s final three point attempt to win the game clanged the rim.
Because of that, they got South Korea as a prize!
It is been said that one has to beat the bests to become the best. Let’s see tomorrow, August 27, if the Philippine team is up to the task on this boon situation the basketball gods gave them.
By: ARMANDO BOLISLIS
Banner photo from Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas Facebook page