It is time to do a post mortem of our FIBA World Cup participation, Palawan. As we already know by now, we ended the tournament winless and ranked 32 of 32 this year so if we want to put a positive spin on things, we can always say that there’s no way to go but up … but we’ve got to earn it via the Olympics or the next World Cup.
We do hope that we truly learn from this humbling experience. As coach Yeng Guiao already knew from the beginning, the national team should have “years” of experience, and not merely weeks, to get a contender in this level of play to perform at an optimal level. This may not be easy but condensing the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) calendar will still be my recommendation so we can still piece the best available talent for international play.
Assembling the best players and not give them the time together to work fluidly has often failed. France, a team that has been formed with former and some NBA talent led by Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, upset the highly touted US Men’s basketball team, a team loaded with NBA players, which became a victim of last-minute fallouts from their original planned roster. Team USA, like our Gilas team, also didn’t benefit from proper “seasoning”, unlike the European powerhouses that kept their best players always free for the national cause.
We still give kudos to members of the Gilas team who sacrificed time away from family and shed sweat and blood to make it this far. Now it is time for the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) to lobby for a long term commitment and program for the national cause. We should continue grinding, we should continue fighting.
Are the Tigers For Real
It looks like coach Aldin Ayo and the University of Sto Tomas (UST) Growling Tigers mean serious business this UAAP season. As of this writing, the Tigers of Espana hold a 2-1 win-loss record with opening game domination of the University of East Red Warriors and an upset of the highly touted University of the Philippines Fighting Maroons. Their sole loss thus far is a see-saw battle with the defending champs, the Ateneo Blue Eagles yielding a tightly contested match by just 1 point.
UST is off to a good start this season, thanks to a full summer build-up and a good crop of rookies assembled this year. I had the privilege of watching their Team B’s summer league game last year. The likes of Rhenz Abando, Brent Paraiso, Sherwin Concepcion, and import Soulemane Chabi Yo were all part of the Tigers’ second team back then being handled by assistant coach Boni Garcia. They all showed their potential already and I sensed that UST can be formidable this year … but I didn’t realize they could start the season this hot.
Let’s take time to dissect what has been doing well for them thus far:
- They have speed – they can sustain coach Aldin Ayo’s mayhem full-court press defense all 40 minutes. The new recruits particularly sensational rookie point guard Mark Nonoy, Abando, Paraiso and veterans CJ Cansino and Renzo Subido are all speedsters ready to apply the pressure all game
- They have shooting – Nonoy, Concepcion, Cansino, Subido, and Abando can all shoot the 3. In fact, UST has made a living shooting 3s in their 2-win output this early in the season
- They have a post player – Chabi Yo, a recruit from Colegio De San Lorenzo, is arguably the smallest Import in the league today but has the ability to seal and plant himself well on the shaded area for an offensive lob or alley-oop
- Players are all “blue-collar” – a team with no certified superstar slugging it out with the best collegiate teams. They don’t get intimidated by the opposition. Every single player fielded give out quality minutes of mayhem
- Respect to coach Aldin Ayo’s system – the players seem to have bought in 100% of coach Aldin Ayo’s speed and mayhem system. They create offense through a stingy man to man and full-court press defense. Ayo has now converted 3 schools to his program (the first two won collegiate titles under him namely the Letran Knights and the Dela Salle Green Archers)
This early, sports aficionados are lauding the Tigers. Are they destined to make it to the final four this year? Should they continue their fine play and keep the roster free of injury, UST could possibly secure a spot. I am certain the likes of La Salle, Adamson, NU and FEU, fellow contenders outside of UP and Ateneo, will tweak their game plans to adjust to the torrid pace that the Tigers are playing this year.
Ayo is out to prove that his coaching expertise and his UAAP title with the Archers 3 seasons ago anchored by Jeron Teng and Ben Mbala wasn’t a fluke.
(The writer is a senior leader in the Business Process Outsourcing industry managing Philippine countryside operations)