F Remembering Saudi Arabia: Why Gilas 3.0 Can’t Afford To Look Beyond the First Round - Powcast Sports

Remembering Saudi Arabia: Why Gilas 3.0 Can’t Afford To Look Beyond the First Round

When the 2013 FIBA Asia Championships was held in Manila, the Philippines chose to be in Group A with Chinese-Taipei, Jordan and Saudi Arabia. Among the three teams, Chinese-Taipei was considered, hands-down, Gilas’ most dangerous opponent. Jordan was also a cause for concern, especially with naturalized Jimmy Baxter in good form. As for Saudi Arabia? Well, everyone agreed that they would be the whipping boy of the group.

With Gilas playing Saudi Arabia on the first day of competitions, the general consensus was that the Philippine team would be getting a practice game right before the “serious” games.

And then, the game was actually played. Maybe the Gilas staff underestimated the Saudi players. Maybe they didn’t scout them well enough. Maybe the Saudis improved immensely from when they first qualified for the FIBA Asia Championships.

Whatever the reason may be, that first quarter of play put tiny icicles of doubt into the hearts of Gilas supporters everywhere, as Gilas looked shell shocked at the fast-breaking, board-crashing opponents. By the end of the first quarter, Saudi Arabia had a 2point lead, 16-14, and had put a dent in the Philippines’ mystique of invincibility.

To the credit of Gilas, they recovered pretty quickly and outscored the Saudis 12-21 in the second quarter. They also won the game by 12, a margin that many felt was way to little for a team that was supposedly heads and shoulders above its previous incarnation, the same team that beat Iran with Haddadi, Bahrami, and Kamrani in its lineup at Jones Cup held just the year before. 

My personal point of view was yes, we did take Saudi Arabia lightly. Gilas players did not have a clue who they should be guarding tightly at the three point line and who they should sag off on. They didn’t know who likes driving and popping, who has a tendency to cheat on D, who they can exploit on the block, who is a threat from the corner… These are the things that come with proper scouting, proper game planning, and even proper game management.

Of the three, we are probably most familiar with Hong Kong. Which means there aren’t any excuses for not taking their game apart. Duncan Reid, Lo Yi Ting, Chun Wai Wong, and Siu Wing Chan should all be watched closely, as any of them could break out with a monster game.

Palestine and Kuwait last played in the 2014 Asian Games and, to their credit, gave a good accounting of themselves. Kuwait has players who can score both inside and outside while Palestine is more a predatory team with a still developing half court game. Both squads are very tough and rugged (as most Middle Eastern teams are) but can be pressured into making mistakes due to inexperience with top-notch competition.

Again, the main problem Gilas will have is their unfamiliarity with their competition. Game tapes and scouts information should be a priority for Gilas as the worst thing that could happen is for us to be on the wrong side of a historic upset.  

For my original thoughts on the Gilas vs KSA game, go to http://sportsfandom.blogspot.com/2013/08/gilas-vs-ksa-some-thoughts.html

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