Gilas looks to exact revenge on Jordan for Asian Games gold
Gilas Pilipinas tries to give this basketball-crazed country its first Asian Games gold medal in 61 years in its rematch with Jordan on Friday night. And national coach Tim Cone believes that do-it-all ace Justin Brownlee will again be up to the task.
The conditions, after all, call for it.
“I really only have one message for him and that is to be aggressive,” Cone told the Inquirer when asked of Brownlee on the eve of the match at Hangzhou Olympic Centre in China. “If anything, it’s the fans that motivate him and keep him confident. They treat him special so he feels he has to play special.”
Playing special has been Brownlee’s trump card so far in the Asiad, with that fourth quarter performance in the semifinals against heavy favorite and host China in a 77-76 win to go down as one for Philippine basketball lore.
“More times than not, he puts a special performance together. He plays his biggest games in the biggest moments,” Cone added.
But Cone has been coaching long enough to not fall into a trap of pinning his hopes on a single man.
And against an enemy who ran off with an 87-62 victory in their previous encounter, the seasoned mentor is steadfast in his belief that the 11 other guys should come through at game time.
“We know what’s at stake and our guys will play with great desire,” he said. “We’ll just have to see if they can find enough energy to back that desire up.”
Game time is at 8 p.m., with Cone wary of another perilous trap waiting to snare his charges: themselves.
Time to refocus
“It’s gonna be difficult. I don’t really have a hard time doing that. I’m really good at moving forward, but getting the team to move forward and getting focused is going to be difficult,” he told reporters on the heels of that sensational comeback against the Chinese.
“We’re gonna be high [of this game], but we have to make sure we’re not too high. [We have to] use the high that we got and move forward with it,” he added.
“If we go out and play on a great high, it doesn’t work out right away, we’re gonna deflate really hard,” he went on. “So we got to come out on an even keel.”
This hastily assembled squad, written off early by fans and pundits due to lack of prep time and manpower woes, will try to replicate a feat done by a squad led by the legendary Carlos Loyzaga in Jakarta, Indonesia, back in 1962.
The road has been taxing according to Cone, but as long as Gilas plays exceptionally well on defense, then the Philippines should be fine against a Falcons squad led by Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and a bevy of World Cup veterans.
“It’s been a tough road. We’re looking for one more great effort,” he said.
“The problem we had last time was just matchups and we had to figure out a better way to match up to them defensively, so we could use our offense better,” Cone added.
“We’ve grown from that game. We’ve grown from Jordan and I think [the] guys are getting a feel of what we’re doing and we’re kind of elevating our game every time out.”