There’s more where that came from
Gilas Pilipinas missed two free throws and a 3-pointer inside the first two minutes of its keenly awaited debut in the 30th Southeast Asian Games on Wednesday night.
That was about as bad as it could get for the national dribblers, who flayed Singapore, 110-58, at the start of 5×5 basketball at Mall of Asia Arena.
It wasn’t as bad, though, as the news national coach Tim Cone has for the rest of the field—if they think they witnessed a beating, wait till Gilas Pilipinas gets to them.
“I don’t think we played our best basketball tonight,” said Cone.
Cue the shivers.
The basketball court has always been the stomping ground of Filipinos in the regional Olympics, save for a few upsets here and there. And when the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas decides to throw a squad of pro superstars coached by a Grand Slam mentor at a bunch of world minnows, that’s basically preordaining the outcome.
So complete was the Philippines’ rout of Singapore that only one player failed to score among the Gilas Pilipinas stars.
And that player, defensive wizard Chris Ross, wasn’t exactly a slacker.
Ross bedeviled Singapore star Wong Wei Long to a 2-of-8 night. Long finished with just six points and couldn’t get going at all.
And as if that wasn’t enough, the 34-year-old Ross, who attempted just one field goal, finished with 10 assists, one steal and a block.
“I think what I was most proud about was the first play of the game when Chris Ross blocked the shot of (Wong Wei) Long. I mean, he’s their star player and right off the bat, he sent a message that we’re gonna come out and play defense against you,” Cone said of Ross, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year in the PBA.
“That’s what we talked about as a team before the game. [Cone] wanted us to set the tone and we as a team were able to get a few defensive stops early,” Ross said. “We want to be a good defensive team.”
Troy Rosario finished with 15 points and eight rebounds, June Mar fajardo added 12 points and six rebounds, Stanley Pringle went on a roll, Matthew Wright drained his shots, and the Nationals shot nearly 60 percent from the floor while holding Singapore to a paltry 32-percent shooting.
Not satisfied, the Philippines, which has glued itself to the basketball throne since 1991, looks to deliver an even more impressive performance against Vietnam on Friday night.
The Filipinos hope to patch whatever holes they still saw against Singapore.
“We were a little bit herky-jerky; we weren’t smooth offensively. We had to make an adjustment at halftime. But honestly, I believe we’ll get better and better as the games go along,” said Cone.
“We’ll get more comfortable with each other but you can see the display of talent out on the floor. Guys can shoot it, guys can push the ball on the floor.”
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.