Wednesday, June 23, 2010
I recently bumped into a few individuals who, apparently, follow my blog and encouraged me to write more often. So i thought of writing some of my thoughts on the past tournament in Qatar (FIBA ASIA Champions Cup) & the upcoming MVP Invitationals in Manila.
FIBA Asia Champions Cup
The 7th place finish for me was an underachievement. It's easy to make 100 excuses because of the situation of the team coming into the tournament but i don't want to cry over spilled milk. Certainly, valuable players JV Casio, Marcio Lassiter & JR Cawaling were missed because of what they could provide on both ends of the court. But let's just focus on those who were 'active' during the tournament, what were the pros and cons.
Despite being undermanned, I believe we could have finished, at least, 5th place (behind Iran, Qatar, Lebanon & Jordan). We lost to Syria in an unbelievably insane manner, an alley-hoop 3-point buzzer beater from an outlet pass downcourt. I thought I would only see those silly shots in the movies. We had our lapses too, which allowed Syria to creep back in the game. A win against them would have allowed us to battle for 5th against Kazakhstan who we can definitely beat.
I think the main problem was our defense. We had difficulty matching up with the opposing players. Against Qatar and Lebanon, the had big and long wing players that caused mismatches against us. Qatar had a 6'9 wingman (Mussa) who could post up like crazy. Fadi El Khatib & Nate Johnson were playing the 2 & 3 positions for Lebanon. Fadi & Nate Johnson both stand around 6'6. Fadi uses his heft to create mismatches while Nate Johnson is very athletic. Both are extremely experienced. Against Kazakhstan, we had problems matching up with the big men who pounded us inside the paint. They had several 7'0 players who were agile. ALmost all their points were scored at close range. Iran had muscle power via Jackson Vroman (6'11) & lengthy Loren Woods (7'1) who played positions 4 & 5 respectively.
On our end, Milan Vucicevic is about 6'10 and has a wide body to bang but is not athletic & not a shot blocker. Japeth Aguilar is 6'9, very athletic but does not body up. In fact, Mac Baracael (6'3) played the position 4 (power forward) 70% of the time. Aldrech Ramos also plays the position 4 but is even skinnier than Japeth because he was recently diagnosed w/ Dengue. Our tallest wingman is Mac Baracael (6'3) but plays mostly the power forward position. Chris Lutz & Dylan Ababou stand around 6'3. And I am 5'10 without shoes. I don't think we had problems matching up with the point guards even if Mark Barroca & RJ Jazul are shorter than i am.
I felt we were not physical enough defensively and we weren't able to pressure the ball enough like we normally do, mostly because of fatigue due to the very short rotation of players. We lacked a shot blocker or even just an inside presence to change the shots of the opponents. This is very important because Coach Rajko's defensive philosophy is to force baseline, which is like funneling everything to our position 5 big man, also known as the Center.
I felt we could have used the zone defense more.
Most of our attempts and points came from outside shots. Mac Baracael took most of the attempts and unfortunately, he was firing blanks throughout the tournament. Totally opposite from how he shot in the Dubai International earlier in the year. Everything that he made then, he missed now. That really hurt our offense because our position 4 frequently gets great open looks because of the system. The heart & hustle he showed was indispensable though. Mark Barocca is a scorer and there was no problem with his scoring. Although we needed him more to setup and create for the others just like what JV Casio & Marcio do. This explains why Dylan couldn't get his open looks from 3 & the bigs couldn't get too much easy points underneath. But recently, Mark is showing his development in his creative passing abilities. Chris Lutz was not much of a factor, mainly because he only had two days of practice before the tournament. We certainly lacked inside points. Japeth was also a non-factor and we missed his energy. He averaged less than 10 minutes a game. He is crucial to our success. Greg Slaughter, who has improved dramatically in the past months, was not used too much as well.
I have to commend the persisting Filipinos in Qatar who went out of their way to cheer for the team throughout the tournament. It felt like we were the home team, just like in the past tournament in Dubai. Filipinos occupied 80% of the stadium, which explains why they scheduled all our games at 8pm - the main game. It's just sad that we don't have a synchronized cheer unlike the other European, American & Middle Eastern countries. We should develop a common cheer for us Pinoys to use in international competitions for all sports! Maybe we can start in this coming pocket tournament?
MVP INVITATIONALS 2010
Looking forward, things can only get better for us. The injured guys are healing and the new guys are picking up the very complicated system of Coach Rajko. We also have Marcus Douthit, as our import and candidate for naturalization, who will be suiting up for the invitational here in Manila. He is very skilled and intelligent, although he is 30 years old already. He can provide the inside points that we lack. Through this pocket tournament, we hope to regain our lost confidence and get back to our winning ways. Competition will be very tough because all teams are coached by the best in the industry. 3 Olympian coaches: Brian Goorjian of Donguan coached Australia in the 2004 Olympics in Athens. Mario Palma of Jordan manned the wheel for Angola in the 2000 SYdney Olympics & Coach Rajko Toroman spearheaded Iran's stint in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. We also have 2 former national team coaches who are part of the tournament, Coach Jong Uichico of Ginebra & Coach Chot Reyes of Talk & Text. Gonna be a very competitive 4-day showdown!
I've posted the details of the tournament in my previous post. Thanks to all those who continue to support the team, win or lose! We now ask for your prayers for an injury-free line up and that we may be the best team in the tournament :)
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
NINOY AQUINO BASKETBALL STADIUM
June 24 - 27, 2010
Jordan National Team
Donguan New Century Basketball Club (China)
Talk & Text
June 24 (Thursday)
430pm - Ginebra vs Jordan
630pm - Opening Ceremonies
700pm - Smart Gilas vs Donguan
June 25 (Friday)
500pm - Talk & Text vs Donguan
700pm - Jordan vs Smart Gilas
June 26 (Saturday)
500pm - Smart Gilas vs Ginebra
700pm - Jordan vs Donguan
June 27 (Sunday)
500pm - Team #3 vs Talk & Text
700pm - Team #1 vs Team #2
845pm - Closing Ceremonies
1. The competition will be (1) round elimination only
2. There will be two guest (2) teams from the professional league (PBA) namely
a.Talk n Text
which will play purely exhibition games only.
3. All games to be played by Smart Gilas, Jordan National Team and Dongguan New
Century Basketball Club will count in their team standing including their games
against the two PBA Teams
4. Team No. 3 in the final standing will be automatically declared 3rd place but will still
play against a PBA Team for exhibition as first game in the final day
5. Team No. 1 and Team No. 2 in the final standing will play one game for
7. FIBA rules will be fully implemented
Tickets available at Ticketnet outlets (i.e. SM outlets & Araneta Center)
Games will be aired on QTV, 2 days delayed.
June 26: 2 - 530pm
June 27: 3 - 530pm
June 28: 2 - 500pm
June 29: 2 - 500pm
Please come & support Team Pilipinas!! This may be the first and the last time that Smart Gilas will compete in a tournament here in its hometown. See you at the venue!