Gilas Pilipinas knows stopping Karl-Anthony Towns will ‘take a village’
MANILA, Philippines—As obvious as it gets, NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns will have Gilas Pilipinas’ full attention come the opener of the 2023 Fiba World Cup.
As coach Chot Reyes would put it, it would “take a village” for the Philippines to stop one of the best centers in the NBA from the Dominican Republic.
“I don’t think it’s physically possible for any single person on our team or perhaps in the entire World Cup to stop Karl Anthony Towns 1-on-1 so it’s going to take a village to beat them,” said Reyes in a press conference at Araneta Coliseum on Thursday.
Even team captain Japeth Aguilar doubled down on Reyes’ statement, saying it would take a lot to stop the Minnesota Timberwolves’ star.
“Like what coach Chot said, it’s not just me but also my teammates who are defending KAT. It takes a village to stop him and the whole Dominican Republic,” he said.
“We will find out when the game starts. We can [then] talk about the x’s and o’s. We’ll never know until the game starts,” he added.
Towns had a superb showing in Minnesota last season, further cementing his name in the list of today’s top-tiers centers with 20.8 points and 8.1 rebounds per game.
TAKING A PAGE FROM THE OLD CAPTAINS
Thrust into the team captain role for Gilas Pilipinas, Aguilar will definitely have his hands full being in the paint with Towns.
He will have a chance to showcase his leadership–as did the men who held the captain positions before him like Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood–in leading the Gilas Pilipinas team against tough teams in Group A.
“Just based on my experience with previous captains—Jimmy Alapag and Gabe Norwood—they really set the bar high. What I saw in them is that they take pride in their craft. Everyday in practice, their routines, it doesn’t change,” he said.
Aguilar, a Barangay Ginebra household name, also took pride in molding his professionalism from the captains of old.
Those values are something Aguilar would want to emulate not against the Dominican Republic game but also for the tournament as a whole.
“Their professionalism—Jimmy–even in highs and lows, never changes. That’s what I want to emulate from him at the same time, I hope the younger guys see it. For me, I’m not really vocal and eloquent like them guys,” said the big man.
“For me, day in, day out, [I’m] just trying to strive for excellence on the court. Hopefully, I get to pass it to the younger ones.”