Good Enough for Gilas: Chris Lutz

2014 is going to be a BIG year for Philippine basketball. This year will mark the first time two of our Philippine National Teams (Men’s and U17) will march onto the world stage and compete at the highest level of international hoops. Our very own Gilas Pilipinas squad will go to Spain and play in the 2014 FIBA World Cup, while the Philippine U17 Team, coached by Jamike Jarin, will troop over to Dubai for the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championships. 

It’s been reported that the Gilas Pilipinas brain trust is keen on tapping more players to join the pool, with the magic number pegged at 24. That means that there are still around eleven slots open. Take note that this does not YET include the two naturalized prospects of the team — Javale McGee of the Denver Nuggets and Andray Blatche of the Brooklyn Nets. We’re still not sure if their respective naturalization processes will finish in time for Gilas to include their names in the final 24-man pool.

As of this writing, the 2014 FIBA World Cup Draw is done, and the Philippines has been grouped along with Senegal, Argentina, Puerto Rico, Greece, and Croatia. That, in my opinion, is the second-toughest group of the lot, and making it into the second round will certainly be the tallest task coach Chot Reyes has ever faced. Needless to say, he’ll need all thew support he can get.

This is the seventh piece in a series of posts detailing the players who can be part of that pool. For each named individual, we will look at the good things he can bring to the pool, his probable role should he get named to the final Gilas lineup, and the possible match-ups he will have at the Asian and world levels.

Today, we’ll talk about someone who was part of Gilas in the 2011 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships in Wuhan, China. He was an integral part of that campaign, forming a dreaded pairing with fellow Fil-American Marcio Lassiter at the wings. He is none other than Petron swingman Chris Lutz.


Chris Lutz was a part of Gilas before. Can he
crack the lineup again?
(image by Paul Ryan Tan/Sports 5)




What he brings to the table:
Lutz offers three main things to the Gilas cause — his experience, his skill-set, and his versatility. 

Lutz was part of Gilas when the nationals competed in the 2011FIBA Asia Men’s Championships, finishing third after a heartbreaking loss to Korea. He averaged just 3.3 points and 1.7 rebounds in that game, while also struggling with his shot. The Marshall University alum shot just 35% from the floor. He was used mainly as a defensive specialist and spot-up shooter, but he also had a few runs as a big point guard. 


Chris Lutz in action for Gilas in 2011.
(image from sports.163.com)


Over the years, both as a member of Gilas and the Petron Blaze Boosters in the PBA, Lutz has showcased a sublime skill-set that has left hoop nuts impressed. He is a career 30% three-point shooter in the PBA while also being a pretty good rebounder, playmaker, and defender. He is maybe the most athletic person on the Petron roster, too.

Lutz is officially listed as 6’3 and can play practically all three perimeter positions. His perimeter shooting and defense make him a shoo-in at the SG position, while his size affords him the flexibility to compete as a 3. His handles enable him to pinch-hit at the PG spot as well. In the international game, that kind of versatility is not only a luxury, but a necessity.


Why he is a good fit for Gilas: 
A 6’3 wingman with good shooting, good handles, and good defense? That’s exactly what coach Chot Reyes’s dribble-drive system needs to thrive. He’s perfect when we talk about guys who can match-up with FIBA Asia’s top wingmen, and though I think he will struggle against the 6’6-6’8 small forwards of the European squads, he still has enough to be able to compete. Imagine Lutz as the SG running mate of Gabe Norwood when Gilas plays big and his being a small-ball SF. He’s just a great fit.


Chris Lutz in the 2014 FIBA World Cup? Why not?
(image by Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5)


Potential match-ups:
FIBA-Asia: Khalid Suliman Abdi (QAT), Takuya Kawamura (JPN), Jet Chang T(PE)
FIBA World Cup: Ante Delas (CRO), Mohammed Diop (SEN), Marcos Mata (ARG)

Like what I wrote in the previous paragraph, Lutz is the perfect counterpoint to the guys like Abdi, Kawamura, and Chang — all of whom can shoot from distance and drive strong to the basket. Against taller guys like Delas, Diop, and Mata, Lutz can potentially stretch the floor with his shooting. In terms of athleticism, he can really challenge those guys, too. 

In the next post, we’ll evaluate yet another product of Gilas 2011. He was drafted by Powerade after the Wuhan FIBA Asia tourney, but he is now playing for the Boosters alongside Lutz. He is none other than Marcio Lassiter.


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5 Comment
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Lutz, in my honest opinion, SHOULD be part of the final 12. Even back then.

No offense to the three shooters we have (Fonacier, David, Chan). I think they have done a good in FIBA Asia and even in Jones Cup 2012. But Lutz is technically the best player at the 2 position, if you play Coach Chot's system, and the kind of competition the international tournament has.
He may have struggled as of late, this could be due to the fact that he is who coaches of other teams actually scout and watch out for because of the way he plays offensively.

His shooting stroke is superb, much like American grown shooters. I think once he gets his shots, he is capable of hitting more at volume. Plus, his speed and quickness with the ball is comparable to Castro. You also can depend upon him on defense. We badly need a good defender at the wing (who's also a good scorer). His handles is also what we need on Coach Chot's system. If you put him with Castro and Norwood, I don't think Coach Chot would have a problem with executing his plays.

I like Gary David, and I still want to see him in Spain. But sometimes he gets lost on his role in Coach Chot's system (mostly I think because in his team he is used to be the main scoring weapon, where the offense revolves around)

I won't recommend him at 3 though. He is honestly too small. I leave it to Norwood or Dillinger to play the 3.

Balas
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Assuming we naturalize the two NBA players, given how everyone is playing, if I tasked to choose the lineup, my recommendation would be:

C - Fajardo
F - Aguilar
F - Norwood
G - Chan
G - Castro

C - Slaughter
F - Pingris
F - Dillinger
G - Fonacier
G - Tenorio

F - Blatche
G - Alapag

We're not playing in Fiba Asia anymore, where the target is just to beat teams like Japan, Taiwan, Jordan, Lebanon, Qatar, and avoiding Iran and China. No.
We're playing against teams which can massacre Iran or China by 30+ points. If Philippines think its strength is its speed, think again.
Those big players in Europe and America are equally just as speedy as our players.
If Philippines think its strength is its outside shooting, think again. Those European teams have the best shooters. Once they manage to execute their plays, like a kickout pass to their shooter, its you block the shot or you don't coz, even Kim Mingoo would look like a high school player.

Philippines have to just play and execute very well. Quick ball movement is key, like how Rain or Shine or Talk n Text moves the ball. Interior defense is also important, which is why a superb defensive effort from Fajardo is important. Scoring on fastbreaks is also very crucial. The more fast break points, the more the coach can control the pace of the game.

We can't depend on shooting, so plays that would get more good looks near the basket or more trips to the free throw should be the main idea.

Senegal is beatable to the extent that they're not exactly a good shooting team, Their offense rests on their defense. Outgunning them from the outside is better idea, since their frontcourt are teeming with hungry highleaping shotblockers bigger than Japeth. Phl just needs to play smart and quick against Senegal.
Croatia and Greece are the teams which Ph needs to get foul shots more. Half-court trap is also key. We could also definitely count on Japeth's mid range jumpers and Marc's jumphooks, Greek and Croat forwards are not as quick defensively.

Against Arg and PR, it's a matter of wearying out their point guards. Once they do that, they'll have a harder time executing their plays and will have to adjust more. Goodluck Phl!

Balas
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One question: Is Chris Lutz eligible to play in FIBA sanctioned tourneys?

Balas
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Yes. I think so. He already was cleared during 2011 Fiba Asia. The rules they had during that tourney are still the ones they are using now. Nothing has changed,

Balas
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C: Douthit, Slaughter
PF: Aguilar, Fajardo
SF: Devance, Washington, Dillinger
SG: Chan, Fonacier, Lassiter
PG: William, Norwood

We don't really have the speed advantage. So we need to match up with some ceiling. Devance, Washington, and Dillinger can play the three spot better. Others may include Santos, or even RDO but Devance is 6'7 and Jay-Wash is 6'6 so size-wise they fit the bill. Dillinger can take the job assigned to Norwood last FIBA-Asia as they take their turns helping William take care of the playmaking chores. Lassiter is clearly the best shooter this Philippine Cup.

Balas