1-of-26: It had to be against South Korea



Imagine if Gilas Pilipinas had one-third of those shots made.


Matthew Wright botched all of his seven attempts and Roger Pogoy misfired five. Kiefer Ravena, Bobby Ray Parks, and Kevin Ferrer combined for ten. Jio Jalalon had the lone made… and he’s pretty much the only one apart from Mike Myers who really fought.


After the Chinese Taipei A win, the last two wins were hard fought.


It took the re-entry of Jalalon to check winless Japan.


Of all the teams, why does it have to be South Korea? This is the team we hate the most. We may love their food… as well as their brand of entertainment… but ever since Lee Sang Min’s 2002 Busan Asian Games triple, Filipinos hate their brand of basketball. My mind has been programmed that we can lose to China, Iran, and even against other countries like Jordan and Lebanon but never against the SEABA countries… and South Korea.


So of all the teams to struggle, why does it need to be South Korea?


I guess the sole consolation for the Sokor defeat is the Jones Cup’s status as an unofficial FIBA event. Chot Reyes saw the tourney as a way to develop his players. It exposed Christian Standhardinger from Gilas Pilipinas play and it gave the 19-year-old Kobe Paras some sort of on-the-job training. It also gave us the front row seat of the awesome basketball intelligence of Kiefer Ravena.


For Carl Bryan Cruz, Mike Tolomia, Kevin Ferrer, Almond Vosotros, Ed Daquioag, Fonso Gotladera, and Von Pessumal, this is a chance for them to get noteworthy gameplay.


As far as meshing these guys with the “A” squad, Wright and Jalalon are shoo-ins. The entry of Kiefer to the main squad could work but he has to compete with Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, and Jalalon. Ditto for Pogoy… although I would rather have a defensive specialist like Gabe Norwood especially if they’ll have Wright.


But this is where the new FIBA calendar comes in. The country’s basketball leaders have devised this notion to maximise player participation in case the games clash with the PBA games. Moreover, the expanded pool could help in case of injuries, fatigue, and other variables we need to overcome. So we can have Castro and Ravena work together in one game and Romeo and Jalalon on the other. It also gives the team leeway to find another naturalized player apart from Andray Blatche. Myers is good but raw. He also has this knack to roll the ball to his palms to either dunk or board. Small hands? But moreover, he isn’t as dominating as Blatche and even Marcus Douthit and a Shaq-like clone is what we need for the squad.


With that dismal shooting clip, even Team USA will have a tough time winning. Gilas Pilipinas’ outside guns have played a vital role in our success. I guess in some ways, this is why I would rather have the Gilas Cadets play in talent-starved squads. Wright and Mac Belo are fortunate to maximize their skills but with the exception of Jalalon and Pogoy, none of the other cadets are as fortunate. Even Ferrer, an erstwhile main man back in college, is now a shell of his once offensive-minded self. Chooks To Go has this thing of giving max pay for Gilas-exclusive players but like Chris Tiu a few years back, it will be difficult for a player to regain his confidence if he doesn’t have an avenue to realize his potential.


Since we already lost the Jones Cup, maybe Chot Reyes needs to re-configure his mission. With the exception of Lithuania, I guess the mentor should give the minutes to the other players. We need to build their confidence because they have a year left on their commitment.


Perhaps there’s another potential break out cadet in the midst?


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