Gilas Pilipinas youngsters get valuable court time in rout of Indonesia
The education of a young Gilas Pilipinas squad continued on Thursday in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup qualifiers, with several rising standouts showing their potential in a 76-51 flattening of Indonesia at Angeles University Foundation in Pampanga.
Justine Baltazar had 11 points and nine rebounds, burying two triples as the Filipinos began peeling away in the third quarter, Ange Kouame also had 11 points while tireless wingman Dwight Ramos chipped in 10 and 12 boards as the Philippines hiked its record in these qualifiers to 5-0.
But young turks like 18-year-old Francis Lopez found time to tease their potential. The 6-foot-5 Lopez, an athletic wing, had eight points for Gilas Pilipinas, including a put-back that gave the Filipinos a 48-31 cushion midway through the third.
RJ Abarrientos, 21, piled up nine points and six assists off the bench while Carl Tamayo, 20, swished back-to-back triples, the second of which gave Gilas Pilipinas a 59-38 spread, 8:11 to go in the game. But more than making the most out of minutes given to them, the youngsters in the national team gained experience about the value of staying disciplined, especially after a shaky first half.
“Without [discipline], we’re pretty ordinary,” national coach Tab Baldwin said after the game. “And we don’t want to be ordinary. We want to be elite, we want to deserve to be an international basketball team that people would respect.”
“Certainly, we aren’t there yet,” Baldwin added. “But it’s very early for these young basketball players so it’s a great learning experience for us. We will improve because of that first half.”
Baldwin knew his young squad would be hungover after Wednesday night’s sensational 81-78 upset of South Korea, so he made sure that his wards knew of the perilous trap ready to snare the team against Indonesia. “So you know, what I’m going to say: Complacency is our enemy,” he said before the game.
True enough, Gilas Pilipinas looked disjointed in the first half, lacking the execution and resolve the Filipinos flaunted against the Koreans.
“We really lacked self-discipline, we lacked the discipline of the culture we were working hard to establish,” Baldwin said.
The Philippines shot under 28 percent from the field, its frostbitten offense rescued only by a constricting defense and 13 offensive rebounds that gave the team a 30-22 lead at halftime.
“So we came out of halftime with a different attitude towards one another. We played much better but I think we should blend the two: A team that could play with tempo and also with discipline,” Baldwin said.
The lead was at 35-31 early in the third before Gilas Pilipinas scored 13 straight points capped by that Lopez putback.
Kai Sotto finished with seven points and seven rebounds for the Philippines.