Yeng Guiao and the Gilas squad’s recent loss against China answered a few questions fans had coming into this year’s Asian Games. And although the game’s final outcome didn’t pan out in our country’s favor, their inspiring, Puso-branded performance still wowed the hearts of many. So as our beloved Gilas squad prepares to bounce back, PlayPH takes a dive into their dynamic.
KEEPING UP WITH THE YOUTH
A good place to start is the team’s composition. A bold move Guiao pulled off was acquiring some of his old-timer players to join his young roster. On one end there’s an aging James Yap, the 45-year old Asi Taulava, and veteran national team player Gabe Norwood.
You could argue that it’s one of Guiao’s moves to instill leadership on a fresh team following the former’s unfortunate incident. But as stakes get high, a solid question that comes into play is how a team’s lineup can be maximized throughout the competition.
The China game barely saw playing time for the vets, except for Norwood who came in on a defensive mission to stop Zhao Rui, who by the way, is a 21-year old scoring machine. Norwood succeeded in containing Rui during big possessions. But as we’ve learned from the past, when coaches exhaust their best players and fail to squeeze out every ounce of talent on that roster – the outcome can be blurred.
We got a taste of an old-timer taking initiative in James Yap’s 12 markers during their outing against Kazakhstan, but that’s all she wrote from that end of the roster.
THE CLARKSON EFFECT
Jordan Clarkson’s presence is surreal on the team. He’s a highly offensive-powered player who, as we’ve seen in the NBA, can create his own shots.
A quick backstory: Clarkson was one of the players on the Lakers roster during the dying days of Kobe’s era. In many ways, he was the guy – the one to be their next tier 1 superstar in reshaping the roster. Turns out he wasn’t. Instead, Clarkson was traded to the Cavaliers in hopes of a championship run, only to be slammed by the Warriors in the Finals.
If we were to step into the Fil-Am’s shoes, his Gilas stint has this small sense of urgency to redeem himself from the bonds of disappointment. Fans received a first-hand glance at it when he scored 28 big points against China. He’s one of the few main reasons why Gilas remained within striking distance.
Unlike Marcus Douthit and Andray Blatche, Clarkson sporting the Philippine flag feels more welcoming – it’s as if he fits in with the team more than the previous imports did. He’s not seen begging for the ball or slacking off on defense, rather he’s hustling for every possession.
Moving forward, the relationship he builds with the team will be a huge factor to the distance they cover at the Asian Games.
HEART ALL THE WAY
It’s an often overseen perk that comes with losing to stronger foreign teams, and it’s all we’ve been accustomed to since Chot Reyes’ first take on handling the national squad. But if there’s one thing our boys don’t know how to do, it’s to give up and back down. No matter the challenge, no matter how big, strong, and mighty the opponent maybe – one thing remains, Puso.
Team Gilas Pilipinas is most likely to play against Korea in their next outing for the Asian Games. Expect the Filipinos to give it their all, as they’ve done countless times in representing the country.
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