RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes Gilas Pilipinas needs to develop bigger point guards for international tournaments to match up better against the world’s tall teams.
Asked to name candidates who can replace the retiring Jayson Castro, the outspoken mentor rattled off Terrence Romeo and his very own Paul Lee as likely successors, but added the national team must develop young playmakers who stand 6’4” or taller to run future national teams.
“We don’t need to look for a point guard in the mold of Jayson Castro,” Guiao said of the 5-foot-10 guard. “Maghanap tayo ngayon ng point guard na medyo malaki.”
“Kailangan maghanap tayo, mag-develop ka ng six-four, six-five na point guard,” he added.
Guiao has been a believer of banking on tall playmakers, having had two versatile point forwards in the 6-foot-5 Gabe Norwood and 6-foot-3 Jared Dillinger when he coached the national team in 2009.
He also had Jayjay Helterbrand and Willie Miller, who both stand 5’11”, in that national side that, however, finished no higher than eighth out of 16 teams in the 2009 Fiba Asia Championship.
While acknowledging the world-class talent of Castro as well that of past national playmakers LA Tenorio and Jimmy Alapag, Guiao admitted their lack of height was bound to take its toll in the end in terms defensive mismatches.
“Medyo kulang pa (yung height ni Jayson),” the ROS coach admitted. “Magaling lang talaga si Jayson. Pero kung mga six-two or six-three siya, (mas magaling). Kasi I think si LA (Tenorio), napakaling eh, pero pag dating sa international, hirap siya. Pagka-nagswi-switching na, hirap siya.
“The same way with Jimmy Alapag. Although he’s done well in international competition, ang problem rin kay Jimmy, he can be taken advantage of defensively,” he continued.
New Zealand starting point guard Tai Webster, who stands 6’4”, exploited matchup mismatches against Gilas in their Olympic Qualifying Tournament win last Wednesday.
His stand runs parallel with that of Gilas coach Tab Baldwin, who put a premium on height when he formed the last Gilas team - the reason he dropped Tenorio from his Final 12.
For now, Lee and Romeo can do if Gilas puts together another all-pro team in the future.
“It’s not bad to have a Paul (Lee) or a Terrence (Romeo), but you have to have an option with a bigger guard,” Guiao said.
He has no doubt the Gilas program can produce one.
I’m sure we can find someone, kasi it’s the program — not the individual players — that will produce the talent,” he added. “Once you have the talent coming out of your program, then you can use that talent for the purposes of the national team, depends on the coach on what kind of system that he wants to develop.”