Friday, July 24, 2009

Of Powerade Team Pilipinas & Possum / The Naivety of Foreign Scout / Chot & Yeng Are The Same

Powerade Team Pilipinas mascot should be the Possum as the creature is often used to describe the team's performance as in "Playing Possum".

One of the most cited defense for playing possum is Kazakhstan which placed 9th place in the 2007 Jones Cup basketball tournament but 4th in the Fiba-Asia tournament. As if it was OK, but they didn't qualify right? Their target wasn't achieved, diplomatically put. Lebanon and Korea played possum in the same tournament but did enough to secure victory in winnable games and never made a fool of themselves. Lebanon was second both in Jones Cup and Fiba-Asia championship in 2007 qualifying for the Beijing Olympics in the process. Korea finished third (Tied with Phils) both in the Jones Cup and in Fiba-Asia. It means when your team is good, it is good. If a team has a coaching staff which KNOWS HOW TO ADJUST and PLAYERS WHO PLAY SMART, then there's no problem even scouting can be neutralized.

But there will be a problem if one underestimates foreign scouts as if they don't know how to tell some team's holding back or not. If an average spectator notices it, then how much more an experienced scout. They know whose "diving" or "playing possum". I don't think they are THAT NAIVE and clueless.

THERE ARE PEOPLE WHO INSIST CHOT REYES was gung-ho and didn't hold back in the 2007 Jones Cup which resulted to our poor performance in that year's Fiba-Asia Championship. It is unfair to Mr. Reyes.

Bill Velasco, The Game of My Life, Philippine Star July 9, 2007 issue

Needless to say, local fans are not too happy with the performance of the Philippine team to the Jones Cup in Taipei. Considering that the Centennial Team topped the tournament without as much support as the current team. But before we cast stones, let’s look at the big picture.

Against the Athletes In Action (representing the US), Jimmy Alapag was flawless with 5-of-5 from the field on his way to 19 points. Mark Caguioa scored nine straight for the Philippines down the stretch. Our players used their experience against the young American selection and knocked off the defending champions.

With less than four seconds remaining and looking at overtime, El Fadi Khatib led a mad dash to Lebanon’s basket and passed off to Rony Fahed, whose awkward desperation heave banked and rolled in for a come-from-behind 65-62 victory. We were outscored, 21-10, in the fourth quarter. Khatib had a monster game with 26 points on 7 of 10 field goals attempts and 12 of 14 free throws.

The following day, the Philippines allowed Yusutake Oatada to score the winning fastbreak off Dondon Hontiveros only turnover with one second left. Japan upset the Philippines, 86-84. Once again, we were outscored in the fourth quarter, 26-13, this time. Even after referees reset the clock back to one second, the Philippines wasn’t able to tie the score. Renren Ritualo hit seven of 10 three-pointers.

Against South Korea, the Philippines held on to preserve the win, 88-84. Gabe Norwood dunked with 10.5 seconds to go for a six-point lead. Mark Caguioa led the Filipinos with 19.

Jordan, meanwhile, used size against us, as Team Pilipinas countered with its backcourt. Caguioa and Alapag combined for 42 points in another loss, 74-70. Jamal Almaaytah had 18 points and five rebounds, while Ayman Idais had 15 points and seven rebounds.

Facing Iran, the Philippines bombed away from outside, knocking down 10 three-pointers in an 89-79 win. The Pinoys burst away with a 32-22 second quarter. James Yap led with 18 points, followed by Alapag’s 14 points and eight assists.

The big picture is that, although we may be unhappy with the losses, the Philippines is still a work in progress, and experimenting is part of the strategy. Head coach Chot Reyes has used different combinations of players, because this is the only way he can study combinations in actual combat, as it were. Second, we are still missing Danny Seigle, who is probably the best closer on the team. The final composition of the team has not been determined, and whose hands to put the ball into when the game is on the line is still a question mark.

So what Yeng is doing now isn't much different to what Chot Reyes was doing, I'm hoping the result is different - very much different. Stop using Chot Reyes to contrast this year's Team Pilipinas and the 2007 one.

After our loss to Japan in 2007 Jones Cup, Chot Reyes was man enough to admit his mistake. "It's the story of our lives," Reyes said in a statement released shortly after the game. "We can't execute in the endgame. We can't close out the game. It's my fault. I did not give them good shots."


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