AMERICAN coach Cody Toppert was left impressed by an undersized Gilas Pilipinas side which outplayed his taller and athletic Elev8 side, 93-84 on Sunday (Monday in Manila) to conclude its training camp in Miami, Florida.
Toppert, who handled Elev8, said he liked Gilas' speed and excellent ball movement, which allowed the nationals to fend off the American squad composed of players from the NBA D-League and several collegiate standouts in the US NCAA.
“I thought they (Gilas) shot the ball extremely well and did an excellent job of withstanding our runs,” Toppert told Spin.ph on Tuesday.
Toppert currently serves as the director of basketball development for Elev8 Sports Institute, where he helps prepare players joining the NBA pre-draft workouts, the Summer League and the NBA season.
The 31-year-old also noted that naturalized centers Marcus Douthit and former Brooklyn Nets’ Andray Blatche blended well with the shorter Filipinos to provide a strong inside presence.
“They have a few guys that can really shoot the ball well. And the naturalized guys are a good contrast to that, bringing a solid inside-outside punch,” he added.
Since Gilas is expected to be the shortest team in the Fiba World Cup in Spain late this month, Toppert pointed out that the national squad will have to be tenacious on the defensive end to stand a chance at advancing to the second round.
“My points about ability to press the ball at all positions is a way they can make up for lack of size. They will need to make the other team uncomfortable on offense, deny passing lanes,” explained the former Cornell University standout.
“If they do these things, they give themselves the best chance (in the World Cup).”