JAKARTA—Yeng Guiao was honest enough to admit that he was surprised at how his rag-tag version of Gilas Pilipinas performed two nights ago.
“Who would have expected that?” Guiao asked the Inquirer Friday afternoon on the way to team practice, referring to the 96-59 victory by the Filipinos over Kazakhstan that jump-started the Philippine campaign in the 18th Asian Games here.
“That was farthest from my mind,” he went on as he praised the team he assembled less than two weeks ago for a performance that almost blew his mind. “I guess it only goes to show the determination of the players to prove themselves—and more importantly, represent the country well.”
Guiao said he is having a difficult time getting his system in place as the Philippines—like the other countries—is getting just 50 minutes a day to practice, whether at the official GBK Baskeball Hall, or at Gor Pulogadung stadium.
“As you can see, that’s just what we have,” Guiao said, pointing at the electronic scoreboard at the old gym that started a 50-minute countdown for the Gilas practice.
Gilas plays mighty China Tuesday and Guiao is thankful for the break that they have so they could get Jordan Clarkson in the scheme of things. He’s confident that the Cleveland Cavalier in the NBA will catch on to his system very quick.
“If the others got it right away, someone with his intelligence on the basketball court will surely get it in a few practices.”
Clarkson flew in from a long-haul flight from Los Angeles via Singapore before noon on Thursday and is battling jet lag.
There’s a part of Guiao’s coaching staff that is making sure that Clarkson gets acclimatized as soon as possible and won’t be groggy for the China game.
“There are people that stayed with him (before nighttime of Thursday) to make sure that he doesn’t sleep at the wrong hour,” defensive anchor Gabe Norwood said with a smile. “That’s hard, being denied of sleep. But he has to do it and our guys did a good job at it.”
Guiao and his coaching staff have an idea of the competition they will face when they play the Chinese, and reiterated that the arrival of Clarkson has given the Philippines something to hope for.
“Before he came over, we were listed as the absolute underdogs,” Guiao said. “But now, we’re just the slight underdogs and who knows, maybe we can shock the world.”
What Team Philippines lacks in size against China it will make up for in speed.
With Clarkson, Guiao has possibly the best guard rotation in the tournament as he can also use first game hero Stanley Pringle and Paul Lee.
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