GABE Norwood has always shown flashes of his brilliance when he plays for Rain or Shine in the PBA.
But it’s when the versatile Filipino-American cager puts on a Gilas Pilipinas uniform that he seems to live up to his full potential on a sustained basis.
While admitting it’s natural to step up in the international level, Norwood insisted that his level of play doesn’t change from the local to overseas competition.
“It makes me laugh a little bit, but if you have the flag on your chest, you should be playing better, right? I think that should be nationally uplifting,” Norwood said after Gilas practice. “But at the same time, I feel I’m doing the same thing, to be honest.”
“I think I prepare mentally and play the game (the same) no matter what,” the 31-year-old cager added. “(But) you can’t have a mental drop-off at this level, because the competition is too big and we learned that quick, we got blown down by Turkey, we got blown down by Italy just because of that.”
Known more for his topnotch defense, having been a four-time All-Defensive Team member and former Defensive Player of the Year, Norwood made his biggest mark in the national team on the offensive end in the 2014 World Cup. When everyone thought he would play it safe against Luis Scola in transition in the game against Aregentina, Norwood posterized the NBA star with a right-handed slam dunk that tops Gilas highlight reels to this day.
National coach Tab Baldwin earlier underlined Norwood’s importance to the squad, and showed his trust in the 6-foot-5 wingman by giving him the most minutes behind Andray Blatche in their tune-up game against Turkey last Friday.
Norwood played almost 29 minutes with just 11 minutes of rest, enough time to register 10 points, six boards, and one assist against two turnovers in their eight-point loss.
“Here at Gilas, I play seventy-five percent of the game, while with Rain or Shine, I’m lucky enough if I don’t have to do that,” said the 2009 Rookie of the Year, who has averaged just 22.5 minutes so far for the E-Painters this season.
His size, length, and experience in the international level has earned him his playing time. But however long he plays, it’s ultimately about making the country proud.
“I think it’s a matter of minutes and flow and everything that goes into it but at the same time, if you have the flag in your chest, definitely you have to take pride and play hard as you can,” Norwood concluded.