Photo from Fiba.com
Gilas Pilipinas raised some concerns – and eyebrows – when he decided to send five amateurs to recruit his professionals for the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualification.
After a thorough flogging of the enemy in his home stadium in Jakarta (100-70), it appeared that the coaching team and the powers that were supposed to determine the team's composition did not gamble at all.
If so, it was a really calculated one.
Just when the Nationals were fighting, Thirdy Ravena – who avoided the chance to become a professional and become number 1 in the draft – led a hot runaway in the third period, making it look like it was a walk in the park for the Filipinos. He landed with team best of 23 points, eight boards and two blocks.
And coach Mark Dickel was just a proud man.
"The PBA players were great in their leadership," said Dickel to the investigator in a text message as soon as the team landed in Manila. "[But] The younger, newer players have reached a good level, which allowed us to all play with high quality minutes."
Ravena insisted that it was more than a solo exhibition and referred to the key contributions by Juan Gomez de Liaño, Dwight Ramos and Matt Nieto.
"I think we played really well since it's our first time in the national team," Ravena told the investigator in a separate message.
"(Juan and Dwight) had a few hard baskets that boosted our morale," added Ravena. "Matt delivered a lot of intangible assets, especially the way he led the team when we were without my brother (Kiefer)."
Gomez De Liaño scored 10 points in just 11 minutes to achieve double-digit results with the three professionals – Roger Pogoy, CJ Perez and the older Ravena.
Ramos, who has not yet played a UAAP game for Ateneo, scored five points, five rebounds and two steals.
Meanwhile, Nieto turned out to be a great mediator with six assists.
The Philippines waved such a promising crew that they left their former mentor, Indonesian trainer Rajko Toroman, in a postgame interview, shaking their heads.
"This team, the Philippines, are better than us," he said. "You are very, very talented."
"We were three quarters competitive, but I think quality, talent and sport [capabilities are] were on your side," added Toroman.
Such performances confirmed not only the early proclamations of Dickel and program director Tab Baldwin that the amateurs will serve as building blocks for Gila's campaign at the 2023 World Basketball Championship.
In fact, it gave the program an idea of how the future can be planned.
"The desired style of play naturally fits the skills of the Filipinos: pressure defense paired with patient offense with a focus on outside shooting," said Dickel.
"This should mean a lot for the program because we are committed to having a real style of play," he added.
Ravena believes, if at all, that such an approach is the right way.
"While we also have to work on ourselves, we also have to work together as a core group," he said. "We have to make sure that we are tight as a core." "We have to be systemic, because that's how we'll win games by 2023." INQ
EDITORS & # 39; PICK
Don't miss the latest news and information.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to access The Philippine Daily Inquirer and others over 70 titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to news, download at 4am and share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.