Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Smart Gilas vs Talk and Text

One word to describe our game today against TNT... disastrous!! We couldn't get any rhythm going all throughout the game. I have to give credit to the coaching staff of TNT who crafted a freak defense catching us off guard. They started off in a man-to-man and as we made the first pass or screen in our set play, they would fall into a 2-3 zone. They did it from the start and we couldn't adjust 'til the end.

We trained with the TNT team for about a month (since we're supposedly 'sister teams') some time around July/August with Coach Toroman calling the shots and teaching the set plays. If you've noticed, both TNT and Gilas run very similar plays with almost the same defensive philosophy, except in today's game where they ran most of their old plays and applied a freak defense. Also with the absence of CJ Giles, they pounded the ball inside and got a lot of easy points underneath and through fast breaks. I was helpless watching in the sidelines due to a slight injury and i got so restless seeing the lead getting bigger and bigger.

I really hate the feeling of losing, i mean who doesn't? Most especially now that we are the RP team and we will be carrying the flag of the Philippines. Every game won is not just a win for the brand or the company, but rather the entire nation. Huge responsibility and pressure! Today's game was truly frustrating for us, and i know for many Filipinos alike. In basketball, just like in life, you win some you lose some. I just want to assure each Filipino (whether a believer of the RP team or not) that we are trying our very best in every game and in every practice everyday. We are giving everything we've got l in every practice, knowing that we are playing for a greater cause. I know 'trying our best' is not enough... we have to be the best!

I texted an old wise friend expressing my frustration and disappointment. The reply was "In these trying times, you have to stick together and toughen up! Be patient and you will definitely get better." Again, I want to thank all those who continue to support the Gilas team! Hope that you never get tired of cheering and believing!


Friday, October 16, 2009

Smart Gilas vs BK

Today, we got clobbered, literally and figuratively, by the 'BK Whoopers'! It was more of a boxing match than a basketball match. We expected it, but we didn't see it coming this bad.

Our offense wasn't so bad as we were still able to score 105 points and shot 47% from the field. BUT it was our defense that killed us, as we allowed 115 points for BK. We lost the rebounding battle as well by 12. BK played a great game today as well and made the necessary adjustments. They shot 59% from the field! That's excellent.

For me it's not so much about the X and O's. It was their viciousness that got us out of our normal rhythm. 4 flagrant fouls in the first half and Winnie Arboleda's "attacking a fan" moment saw our 13 point lead disappear. Our players became hesitant to drive to the basket and dive for the loose balls. Most coaches will probably instruct their players to play physical when playing against a younger, skinnier and faster team in order to intimidate them. But playing dirty, is something else. It was a fitting initiation for us in our debut game in the PBA.

It was a sorry loss for the Gilas team. We don't expect the referees to cut us some slack as seen today. It's as if there were two different standards for both teams. But that's precisely why we're in the PBA as a guest team. We're here to learn, to toughen up when playing more experienced and physical players.

It's just really embarrassing to see a veteran/franchise player behave so unprofessionally. After getting away with a slap to the face of JV Casio, an elbow again to the face of JV and a football tackle to Mac Baracael, he still hasn't had enough and goes up to the stands to beat up a Gilas fan. All that in just 3 minutes inside the court. I am really curious to see what actions or inactions the PBA will take for such actions.

Nevertheless, it was an entertaining game. See you Wednesday vs Talk and Text.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

MILO 3-in-1 TVC

Hello, here's my latest MILO 3 in 1 TVC with JVee Casio, my current teammate in SMART Gilas. Hope you like it!



Friday, October 9, 2009

Blue Eagles win it BACK 2 BACK

I was kinda nervous that morning before the game because I knew that UE was a tough team that plays with a lot of energy and emotion. Anything could have happened! Once UE gets their rhythm going, they're very very difficult to contain.

Ateneo did everything right in game 3 to clinch the championship convincingly! They proved that they are the best team in the UAAP and probably in the entire collegiate level in the Philippines. Game 2 was just a disaster where the Blue Eagles fell into the trap of UE's 2-3 zone defense. They attempted too many 3-pointers and never got it going. Eventually, they lost the confidence shooting from the outside. UE on the other hand, was on fire. They started connecting on their outside shots and that got them on a roll.

In game 3, everybody knew that UE would play the same zone press, then fall back to a 2-3 zone defense. Coach Norman and the rest of the coaching staff did such a great job making the necessary adjustments. First, they attacked UE on the fast break and secondary break on every opportunity. They were quick on the outlet passes and they were going hard to the basket against Espiritu and Llagas. They didn't settle for too many 3 point shots. They were patient moving the ball around and hitting Rabeh inside for a higher percentage shot. And lastly, their defense was suffocating! Nonoy was holding the fort as usual, and everybody else did their part. From the start of the game, i could tell that Rabeh didn't care about the stats, he just wanted to win it. You could see it in his body language.

Jai Reyes played a great all around game. His dishes to Rabeh and timely 3 point shots broke the game open, not to mention the leadership. Ryan Buenafe, Kirk Long, Nico Salva, Bacon Austria, Eman Monfort all stepped up as well on both ends of the floor. Eric Salamat finally came out to play, not necessarily scoring points, but breaking down the UE defense and making important plays.

I would have loved to be part of this back-to-back team. Victory is always sweet but we should recognize the dedication and effort but in by each individual, player, coaching staff, management, utility, etc. It has been a great basketball season for Ateneo seniors and juniors as well. We hope that the other Ateneo athletes can bring home the crown as well. Good luck to you guys and more power!

In the meantime, it's time to celebrate! Congratulations to the BLUE EAGLES! But let's also not forget our brothers and sisters in Northern Luzon who are in great danger and suffering because of typhoon Pepeng. Let's pray for them and do what we can to help them out! One Big Fight!


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Why Smart Gilas won over Powerade...

Because of your numerous requests to blog about the Charity game, here it is. But first, let me thank all those who watched the Charity game LIVE at the Araneta and also at home. Of course, it would have been better if you were there live because your ticket purchase would have gone to the victims of the typhoons. Nevertheless, thank you for the support!

When we first heard that we will be playing the Powerade team, we were excited but at the same time somewhat unsure. We're a bunch of players who just finished college (some are still playing for their universities) who will be going up against the legends of Philippine basketball. Right away i thought about who i will be guarding, it was James Yap, a former MVP. I've always enjoyed watching him play. I admire his jumpshots and creativity in making baskets in almost every way. And then there was Willie Miller, Dillinger, Norwood and Baguio. Pretty star-studded.

The last time I played against an RP team was in 2007 when i was still playing for Ateneo. The RP team then was coached by Chot Reyes. We were blown-out by almost 40 points in two quarters. Not a very good memory.

Although it was a charity exhibition game, both teams surely wanted to win. The Gilas team wanted to make a statement that we can compete internationally and that we should be the ones competing abroad now that the Powerade team has served their duty in the last FIBA Asia Champions Cup in August. On the other hand, i'm sure the Powerade team wanted to prove that they are indeed the strongest team in the country today.

Obviously, Powerade didn't really have the chance to brush up on their plays because the players are all practicing with their mother squads in the PBA. Whereas in the Gilas team, at least 6 or 7 of us were able to train regularly for a few months now until the UAAP players (Ababou, Cawaling, Ramos) joined us just last week. But that's exactly the point of the Smart Gilas program: to come up with a national team that trains together all year round in preparation for international competitions.

I think the result of the game yesterday (for those who didn't watch, Gilas won by 29) just vindicates how important playing a team game is compared to doing it individually. I will admit that in terms of individual skill/technique, the Gilas players are still lagging behind to equal that of the Powerade players. One on one, i don't think JV Casio/Barocca can match up with Willie Miller. Cawaling, Ababou and I cannot match up one on one with James Yap either. All the more Ballesteros and Japeth cannot match up with Asi Taulava, Sonny Thoss and Kirby Raymundo. The only reason why we were able to emerge victorious against them yesterday was because of the 'system' of Coach Rajko Toroman. Even defensively, there are strict rules to be followed. Offensively, there's a lot of movement going-on. Lots of screening, cutting and passing, all within the playbook of Coach T. I'm trying not to make it too technical for those who don't really follow basketball . But simply put, there's a strict system that we follow which entails a lot of discipline and paying attention to details. On the other side, Team Powerade had their own sets of plays, which i felt lacked the continuity and mastery. The plays were broken down and ended in a one on one situation. It's definitely no walk in the park for James Yap / Willie Miller to beat 5 players. At times, it broke down to a two-man game with ball screens and hand-offs. I think I heard Quinito Henson mention this as well when i watched the replay of the game, team game vs individual talent.

At the start of the game, we were a bit rusty and kind off starstruck with our opponents which led to many turnovers and bad shots. But slowly, we were able to get into the rhythm of the game.

I'm just very grateful to be given this chance to play under Coach T. What a learning experience!! Like what i said in a previous blog entry, i believe i made the best choice in this decision to play with Smart Gilas under Coach T. I cannot imagine myself playing under another coach or system at this moment. How i wish that Philippine basketball can evolve and adopt his European style and stop copying the NBA, so that we can be competitive internationally. Look how Lebanon, Jordan and Iran (which Coach T led to the Olympics) are now overtaking the old Asian powerhouses like Korea, Philippines, etc. Who would have thought that even China would be blown out by Iran in the Finals game of the FIBA Asia Championships? Sometimes, we just have to lower our pride and egos if we sincerely want to become better. Not necessarily in basketball, but in any facet of our lives.

This is just the beginning of our long journey towards 2011. Thank you to all those who continue to support RP Smart Gilas and I pray that the divisions will cease to exist in Philippine basketball that hinder our country from reaching its full potential.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

Charity Game on Monday

The SBP (Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas), together with the PBA, PBL, UAAP and NCAA, is organizing a fund raiser basketball showdown this Monday, October 5 for the victims of Ondoy. There will be two games. First game at 5pm is between the UAAP/NCAA selection vs PBL/Liga Pilipinas selection. And the main game at 7pm is between the RP Powerade vs RP Smart Gilas. Of course, I will be playing in that game for the Smart Gilas team together with Japeth Aguilar, Marc Barocca, JV Casio, Dylan Ababou, CJ Giles, etc.

Tickets are priced at P200 Patron, P100 Lower Box and P50 Upper Box A. If you donate old shoes / slippers, you can get in for free and watch from Upper B / General Admissions area. All proceeds from ticket sales will be used for the victims of typhoon Ondoy. It's gonna be a great show so make sure that you'll be at the Araneta Coliseum this Monday. You'll be easing a lot of lives as well! :)