Jakarta—As if the burden of steering a hastily formed national team in the 2018 Asian Games wasnít enough, Yeng Guiao has been handed another huge task by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas as head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas team in the next two Fiba World Qualifiers against Iran and Qatar.
But knowing Guiao, the eloquent mentor of the Rain or Shine Elastopainters in the Philippine Basketball Association and master tactician of the two-week-old Philippine team in the Asian, he won’t back down from any challenge. But first things first. China.
Guiao and his ragtag group of pros, led by NBA star Jordan Clarkson, take on the Great Wall of China at 4 pm today (Tuesday, 5 pm Manila time) in what many Filipino basketball fans hope could be a preview of the championship in the 2018 Asian Games here at the Basketball Hall of the Gelora Bung Karno Complex.
The Filipinos hurdled their first assignment by routing a bad shooting Kazakhstan side, 96-59, during the preliminaries Wednesday, but they can’t expect the same smooth-sailing game when they face the Asian favorites.
“It’s going to be totally different. The game plan against Kazakhstan was to disrupt its offense and prepare for its three-point shooting,’’ said Guiao.
“Against China, you cannot trap them because their offense is concentrated more inside anchored on their big players. We have to play man-to-man most of the time dahil kapag ’yung malalaki nila nakatanggap na, they will be difficult to stop.
Guiao, who felt he needed all the help he could get, enlisted the services of Ryan Gregorio, himself a three-time PBA champion coach, as his chief scout.
The good soldier that he is, Gregorio responded with this assessment: The Chinese, while strong on all fronts, have four standouts who could be a pain in neck of Guiao and his wards.
They are Abudushalamu Abudurexiti, Wang Zhelin and NBA players Zhou Qi and Ding Yanyuang.
Zhou Qi is a 7’1” player who plays for the Houston Rockets while Ding, a 6’7” forward, sees action for the Dallas Mavericks.
“Abudushalamu has the body of a power forward with the quickness of a guard. Zhou Qi is a 7’11’’ NBA player. He’s tall and quick. He has a range that can extend to the 3-point range. He has great anticipation skills on defense. Wang Zhelin is a seven-foot center. He is quick on his feet and has a polished inside move. He is hard to stop inside the paint. Ding Yanyuan: NBA player. Small Forward. Quick and strong. Has long range,’’ Gregorio said in his scouting report.
But speed is on the PH’s side.
“We are banking on our quickness. We lack the height and length but we can compensate with our quickness and intelligence ,said Gregorio.
Plus, the Filipinos have Clarkson, who, according to Guiao, could be the best player in these games.
“I think he’s a class of his own in this Asian Games,’’ said Guiao. ‘‘Wala pa akong nakita. I’ve watched Korea, China, Japan, Iran. I don’nt think skills-wise may tatapat sa kanya. Nadagdagan ’yung quickness natin nu’ng dumating si Clarkson. Clarkson's mentality is he can control the game just by his decision-making, not to mention his skills and physical abilities.
Guiao added: “If you give him the ball and make him create, it’s either he will find the open guy or he will score. A lot of PBA imports don’t get to that level. Mayroon silang physical skills, mayroon silang size and mayroon silang abilities, pero at a young age, it’s really the mental aspect of the game [that sets him apart]. How he reads the game, how he makes a decision, how he chooses his options, I think that’s the difference.”
Meanwhile, SBP president Al Panlilio appointed Guiao as head coach of the Gilas Pilipinas team for the 2 games in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers against Iran and Qatar.
Panlilio, who is also the Governor of the Meralco team in the PBA, has already informed the board members of the SBP’s decision.
Guiao is subbing for Chot Reyes, who will be serving out his FIBA suspension as a result of the July 1 FIBA World Cup Qualifier brawl between the Philippines and Australia.
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