Guiao feels Korea has no one to defend Clarkson in quarters
JAKARTA—Three days removed from a loss to China, Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao is growing confident after every practice, not because of the talent in the team, but because of the cohesion his players are achieving.
“The way they are playing and developing cohesion, I think things are even this time going into the game against South Korea,” Guiao said after practice on Friday at GSMB gym here as the Nationals try to get to their sharpest form and deal with a country that has inflicted some of the most painful losses in Philippine basketball history.
Guiao also said that the presence of Jordan Clarkson alone has redefined how the other countries are taking Gilas here, most especially after narrowly losing to China, 82-80, last Tuesday.
“We weren’t as efficient as we wanted to be against China,” Guiao said. “It was, after all, Jordan’s first game since the NBA Finals with Cleveland. So we’re expecting a little more efficiency in the Korea game.”
Guiao said that Saturday and Sunday will be spent plotting defensive schemes how to cover naturalized Korean center Ricardo Ratliffe. “The [coaching] staff will discuss on whether to double team him or give him single coverage.”
“We take a big gamble doubling him because he opens up the outside gunners,” Guiao said.
That quarterfinal match happens Monday at Gelora Bung Karno’s Basketball Hall at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. in Manila) and the Philippines will have to take the first step in scaling not just the Great Wall, but the veritable Mount Everest if the Filipinos are to win gold.
“Size-wise, we are almost the same,” he added. “Ratliffe is better and stronger than any of our big men, but I don’t think they (Koreans) have an answer for Jordan Clarkson. It’s up for us to maximize that.”
Should the Philippines survive Korea, it is likely that the next enemy will be many-time Asian champion Iran in the Final Four before getting another shot at the 7-foot-2 Zhou Qi and the Chinese for the gold medal.
The Koreans, to whom Guiao lost to while handling a different PH team in the Fiba Asia Championship in Tianjin, China, in 2009, swept their first three classification round matches as expected and are the deadliest in the tournament.
Korea has waylaid its first three foes by an average of 35 points, hitting 15 triples against Thailand two days ago to highlight its talent from afar.