Smart Gilas Pilipinas five takes on TaiwaneseBy June Navarro
Philippine Daily Inquirer
WUHAN, China—Chinese Taipei is exceptionally good on its home court and Philippine five coach Rajko Toroman hopes that it stays that way.
Tangling in a neutral venue this time, Smart Gilas Pilipinas tries to hurdle Chinese Taipei for the fifth straight time tonight and reach the semifinals of the Fiba Asia Championship semifinals for the first time since 1987.
The Filipinos have beaten the Taiwanese in their last four meetings, three of them in Taipei during the William Jones Cup.
“I understand, they play much better at home,” said Toroman after the Nationals finished second in Group F with a 75-52 demolition of Syria. “They are specially confident when they play in the Jones Cup.”
If the Filipinos get past the Taiwanese, they will face the winner between defending champion Iran and Jordan in the semifinals.
The other quarterfinal pairings pit South Korea against Japan and China versus Lebanon.
Chinese Taipei, which wound up third in Group E behind Iran and South Korea, shot below 42 percent in six games, including a miserable 21 percent against the Iranians.
Smart Gilas has fared much better, hitting its shots at 55 percent with Marcus Douthit consistently making six of every 10 tries each night.
“At the moment, they (Taiwanese) don’t play good,” said Toroman. “But if their outside players start shooting the ball well, we’ll have a problem.”
Center Tseng Wen-ting and power forward Wu Tai-hao control the boards for Chinese Taipei while Lin Chih-chieh, Chang Tsung-hsien and Chen Hsin-an are capable of exploding on any given night.
The challenge for the Taiwanese in the do-or-die matchup of this Olympic qualifier is how to keep up with Douthit’s strength and length in the paint along with either Kelly Williams or Ranidel De Ocampo.
Toroman will again put premium on the defense that shut down Japan’s Takuya Kawamura and power forward Kosuke Takeuchi, as well as the free-wheeling style of the Syrians.
“This is the reason why I’m optimistic,” said Toroman. “We did a great job on [Japan and Syria] defensively and we’ll try to do it again against Chinese Taipei.”
The 6-foot-10 Douthit averaged 18.6 points and 10.5 rebounds in six games, including a monstrous 25-point, 18-rebound, three-block, three, 3-assist performance against Japan.
Marcio Lassiter, who normed 21.5 points against Jordan and Japan, is the team’s next reliable offensive contributor with 11.3 points after three games.
“Without a good, big guy like Marcus, we’ll never do good in the tournament because we’re small,” said Toroman. “He has a big impact on the team.
“Marcus is very skilled offensively. He’s very clever and creative for his size while our outside players have been aggressive throughout.”
The national team last made it to the semifinals of the Asian Championship in 1987 in Bangkok when the tournament was still known as the Asian Basketball Confederation championship, a year after the Northern Consolidated Corp.-backed PH five won it.