ONE of Gilas Pilipinas’ foes in the Southeast Asian Basketball Association (Seaba) Championship turned into a friend on Thursday night in its return to practice.
Tim Lewis, who handled the Thailand national squad that lost to the Filipino dribblers, 108-53, in the regional showpiece last May in Manila, was a surprise visitor in practice at the Upper Deck gym where he gave the Gilas squad some defensive pointers.
National coach Chot Reyes said Lewis is on a short-term contract with TNT KaTropa and the British mentor asked if he could come to Gilas practice just to watch, prompting the Filipino coach to take advantage of the situation.
“We said sure, on the condition that there are some stuff that we want to also put into our defense,” Reyes said.
Lewis, who’s currently unattached, gladly accepted the chance to coach Gilas for a moment.
“It’s a very loose situation, so there’s no contract. It’s just that I’m glad to help out,” the British coach said. “It’s just an opportunity to coach basketball somewhere else in the world. I appreciate them giving me the opportunity.”
Lewis, a former NBA D-League assistant coach for the Bakersfield Jam and Raptors 905, specifically tackled some defensive philosophy that Gilas simulated in a half-court five-on-five set.
“Just some different defensive concepts and things like that,” Lewis said. “Then coach will take it away and then decide whether or not that was what he wants to do – or you know, he wants to do something slightly different."
Asked about his initial assessment on this current crop of Filipino dribblers that will see action in the Fiba Asia Cup in Lebanon next month, Lewis noted the depth and speed of the squad.
“It’s hard to see in just a practice environment, but I mean you got so many tools here, weapons, so much depth at each spot,” Lewis said. “And the way that you play is at an up-tempo style of basketball cause you’ve adapted because of the size or the lack of size at times.
“And now you have the additions to size as well,” he added. “I think it’s exciting times for Philippine basketball. And you’re never scared to bring in these younger guys, too.”
Lewis, though, believes the Fiba Asia Cup will be a fitting test for Gilas.
“Put them in the face of adversity and challenge them and see whether they could take it,” Lewis said. “It’s impressive. It’s a well-oiled machine.”