DONDON Hontiveros believes South Korea had no extra motivation in beating Gilas Pilipinas, saying the Philippines’ perennial continental rivals prepared the same way they did against any team in the Fiba Asia Cup.
The Koreans asserted their mastery of the Filipino dribblers with a 118-86 win in a quarterfinal matchup where Korea missed just five of their 21 three-point attempts, thanks to offensive precision that reminds Hontiveros of the Golden State Warriors.
“Hindi lang tayo (ang pinaghandaan). Ang laro ng Korea is for any team,” the Alaska gunner insisted in a chat with SPIN.ph after Aces practice on Tuesday. “Makita mo yung spacing nila, ang ganda.”
“Kumbaga if you compare it to an NBA team, parang Warriors: first good look, they’ll take it; if not, meron pa silang continuation, and they end up with the ball screen,” he added. “Magaling magbasa yung point guards nila. Perfect for a team like them who shoots really well outside.
“Open yung four-out-one-in na offense and it comes from their coach, Hur Jae, a very good shooter,” he continued.
Hontiveros, himself, has experienced those nights where nothing you throw seems to miss, but the Cebuano Hotshot admitted that Gilas’ defense was partly to blame for the Koreans’ unbelievable shooting.
“May mga games talaga na maganda, pero if you’re open for two seconds na walang (depensa) tapos mas malapit pa yung three-point shot compared to professional, and they’re known for that, so we cannot give them an open look,” Hontiveros said.
“Syempre partly din yung defense natin na nabibigla yung ano…tapos perfect yung the way they ran their offense,” he added.
Still, Hontiveros, captain of Gilas’ 2015 Fiba Asia Championship squad under coach Tab Baldwin, lauded their successors for making do with what they had under the circumstances.
“The way they lost to Korea, parang an ordinary fan would say na hirap talaga, pero for the most part din, we were there, of course kay Terrence (Romeo),” Hontiveros said. “Pero at least we know that we can work on things, yung mga players na kailangan natin.
“I’m hopeful with the program and with coach Chot, lalakas pa talaga tayo,” he added. “It’s just a preview lang of what to expect from Gilas. Of course, hindi naman in-expect na ganun tayo na place eh, but with the amount of time they practiced, para sa akin, it’s something to be proud of.”
Regarding players that the national team needs, Hontiveros suggested a naturalized player who can reinforce the team in the mold of Javale McGee, who was once eyed as a naturalization candidate, considering Andray Blatche’s availability for future tournament, ultimately the 2019 World Cup, and being the right fit.
“Ilang taon na si Andray by then (2019)?” Hontiveros asked of Blatche, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Tuesday. “Ibang type of player si Andray eh. Nakaka-create siya ng mismatch.”
“(But) there was a time na pinag-isipan nila yung klaseng player like si Javale McGee – yung rim protector, athletic big, someone like Japeth, parang ganun na import,” he added. “Kasi we have Terrence, Jayson (Castro), and other guards who can create.”
But if Blatche would be available, Hontiveros is hoping the NBA veteran to train longer with the team – like what Marcus Douthit did when he stayed in the Philippines for good to bolster the original amateur-laded Gilas squad.
“Pero if the question na si Andray…it’s really up to Andray,” Hontiveros said. “Kasi it’s hard, like sa amin (2015 Fiba Asia), nandun kami pero Andray was here a month lang before the tournament; may chance pa naman, pero I was thinking, had he been here longer, mas ano pa kami. Pero we were there.”