2014 FIBA Asia Cup Preview: Gilas Pilipinas

Coach Chot Reyes (center) will lead a very different crew to try and
capture the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup in Wuhan, China.


In a couple of days, the curtains will open on the 2014 FIBA Asia Cup, which will be held in Wuhan, China, the site of the 2011 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships. Nine teams are participating in this edition of what was formerly called the FIBA Asia Stankovic Cup (Uzbekistan backed out a couple of days ago). This tourney happens every two years, with the latest one held in Tokyo in 2012. The winner in that edition was Iran, which beat the host nation, 53-51, in the Finals. Iran went through the whole field unscathed, beating India, Qatar, Taiwan, and Japan in the group stage, then upending Uzbekistan and the Philippines in the knockout rounds before repeating over the Japs in the Championship Game.

Gilas Pilipinas participated in 2012 as part of its long preparation for the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships. Gilas entered the Tokyo tournament as a heavy favorite, especially after capturing the 2012 Jones Cup in Taiwan, where they beat the mighty Iranians and a team from the USA. The Filipinos were already without coach Rajko Toroman, who, at that point, was already busy in the PBA with the San Miguel group.

Gilas finished the group stage in Tokyo with a 3-1 slate, winning over Lebanon, Uzbekistan, and Macau, but losing against a young Chinese team. Coach Chot Reyes, the newly-minted national tactician, helmed Gilas in its win over the Taiwanese in the quarterfinals. The Pinoys, however, lost to a tough Iran quintet in the semis before bowing to a hot-shooting Qatari squad in the battle for third.

In this third of a four-part preview, we’ll take a look at the chances of Gilas in Group B and see how far they can go in this tourney.



GILAS PILIPINAS

Roster:
Number
First Name
Last Name
Birthday
Height
Weight
Position
4
13/11/1991
5’11
77
G
5
09/07/1984
5’11
73
G
6
13/02/1989
6’2
81
G
7
14/02/1989
6’1
81
G
8
13/07/1978
6’1
81
G
9
08/12/1981
6’6
93
F
10
06/01/1984
6’4
92
F
11
15/04/1980
6’11
113
C
12
30/11/1986
6’6
117
C
13
10/11/1981
6’7
95
F
14
25/01/1987
6’9
104
F
15
17/11/1989
6’11
122
C


Prognosis:
With only half this roster comprised of players who were in the 2013 FIBA Asia Men’s Championships, it’s clear that this is not the same team that won the silver medal in Manila. Not around is veteran playmaker Jimmy Alapag, who drained a pair of dead-shot threes against Korea in the semifinals. Not around is Marc Pingris, who held the fort in the middle valiantly when Marcus Douthit went down with his infamous injury. Not around is Jayson Castro, who was so spectacular in Manila that he was named to the All-Star Five. Also not around are wingmen Gabe Norwood, Jeff Chan, and Larry Fonacier, all of whom also had shining moments last year.

In their places are Kevin Alas and Garvo Lanete, both promoted from the Gilas cadet team. Jared Dillinger, a key piece of the Gilas pool in 2013 before getting injured in a vehicular accident, is also back in tow along with Beau Belga, the last cut prior to the Manila tournament. Two players are also making their debut for the national men’s team: Paul Lee of the Rain or Shine Elasto-Painters and Jay Washington of the GlobalPort Batang Pier.

How will these “replacements” do? Well, despite wanting in international experience, there is surely no shortage of talent and size. Both Alas and Lanete are projected to be high picks in the coming 2014 PBA Draft, while Lee and Belga will definitely come off a great season in the PBA (it hasn’t even finished yet as of this writing).

The x-factors for me, however, will be Dillinger and Washington. Dillinger pretty much takes the place of Norwood as Gilas’s main wing defender. He’ll probably take on Jordan’s Rasheim Wright and Taiwan’s Liu Cheng while also becoming a key facilitator and wing operator on offense. His experience will also be vital, as he was part of the 2012 squad in Tokyo.

Washington, for his part, will provide additional firepower from all angles. He is well-known as a versatile forward who can score around the basket and from the perimeter. The one knock on him, however, is his defense, and that’s exactly what Gilas will need more in Group B and the latter stages. Jordan will be top-heavy with Mohammad Hadrab and its twin towers – Ahmad Al-Dwairi and Mohammad Hussain – while Taiwan’s Quincy Davis will be all too happy to bully the Gilas frontline if we’re not careful. When we do advance, we’ll have to possibly contend with the likes of China’s Zhou Qi, Japan’s Takeuchi twins, and Iran’s vaunted frontcourt. Needless to say, Washington will be tested like never before.

He won’t have to go it alone, though, as a healthy Marcus Douthit, a motivated Japeth Aguilar, and freshly-crowned PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo will be around to solidify Gilas’s interior presence. Of course, we also cannot discount 2014 Govs’ Cup Best Player Ranidel De Ocampo, who will love nothing more than to slice and dice opposing defenses and rifle in those threes, and the burly Belga, who, if anything, will never back down from any tussle.

One key aspect here is whether LA Tenorio can orchestrate the offense with consistent efficiency. He had some shaky moments in 2013, and without both Castro and Alapag, the Lieutenant will be coach Chot’s #1 point man for all the games here. Lee and Lanete will have their moments as the team’s floor generals, but both players’ strengths lean more towards their shooting rather than their playmaking.

Speaking of shooting, this is where the pressure will be squarely on veteran Gary David. In 2013, it took El Granada six games before he exploded with four threes against the Kazakhs in the quarterfinals. Gilas will play exactly six games in Wuhan, so he better heat up much earlier this time around. Kevin Alas should be an able back-up at the two-guard spot, with Dillinger, Lanete, and Lee all capable of hitting long toms, too, but make no mistake about who the team’s #1 sniper is.

So, after everything, can Gilas rule its group, go deep in the knockout phase, and even win this tournament? Coach Chot definitely has the tools, the size, and the talent, but perhaps the bigger factors are whether the team has played together enough and whether they’re fit enough to survive the grind of this relatively short competition. I expect they should finish among Group B’s top two (if not sweeping altogether), and they should advance at least till the semifinals, but it’s all up in the air after that. Iran will be the heavy favorites to win it all, China is famous for playing much better on home soil, and Japan had good form in its recent tune-up trip to Korea, so any of those teams can give Gilas more than a stiff challenge.

Still, #LabanPilipinas! #Puso!


Watch out for the last part in the next few days!




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5 Comment
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Nice artcile po!

Balas
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So this is the final roster? Where's norwood, I personally am not a fan of norwood but we know he's the best perimeter defender on the team. Jay-Wash is a soft player, he'll probably play the 3, not the 4. And why isn't blatche there? Where's the ever consistent and clutch mighty mouse??? Where's the best PG in asia in the blur jason 'castro' william??? And they got some dude named kevin alas instead of castro... These are just some comments I'd like to put there.

Balas
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sir FIBA asia cup plang yan hindi pa po yan ung FIBA world cup..
base sa mga nabasa ko na article about gilas line up for FIBA asia cup is parang tryout yan sir para sa FIBA world championship.. ung mga player na hindi kasama dyan like casto,chan,norwood etc.. sure na po na kasama sa line up ntin para sa FIBA world..

Balas
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Nice article! What are your thoughts on the naturalisation of Blatche? I feel that it was the wrong move. With the development of Slaughter, Fajardo, Aguilar, Almazan, Sangalang plus the other amateur prospects like Chris Blake, Gilas Pilipinas is well stocked with big men. The biggest need at the moment is a big wing player that can defend and shoot. Norwood and Dillinger are both good defenders and facilitators but neither are great outside shooters.

I don't know who Gilas should have targeted but I truly believe that a big wing player is a greater need than a big man.

Balas