CHANGSHA, China – The effort that was previously lacking in Gilas Pilipinas was finally there on Thursday, giving the national team the boost it needed to pound out a 101-50 rout of Hong Kong for its first win in the Fiba Asia Championship here.
Still, coach Tab Baldwin believes Gilas has a lot more to offer especially after being sidetracked by a Palestine team that merely used a seven-man rotation in a 75-73 win which proved to be the biggest upset yet in this two-day old Olympic qualifying meet.
“Yesterday I don’t think we did enough,” admitted Baldwin after the Philippine team atoned for the poor performance against the Palestinians.
However, redemption is still far off, Baldwin pointed out.
“We don’t redeem ourselves until we wipe every bit of doubt on everybody’s mind on who we are.”
Touted by many as among the top contenders for the title in the 28th edition of the biennial meet, Gilas did show a glimpse of what it is capable of doing by attacking strong to the hoop and hitting its shots from the outside in dealing Hong Kong its first loss of the tournament.
In particular, the Filipinos torched Hong Kong from beyond the arc by hitting 41 percents of their shots (14-of-34) compared to their 23 percent shooting from the same area (7-of-30) in their loss against Palestine.
They likewise outrebounded the opposition, 62-38, after getting beaten off the boards by the Palestinians, 53-58.
“Lots of good things come from effort, and lots of bad things come from lack of effort,” stressed Baldwin.
Unlike in the Palestine game when Gilas struggled against the zone, the nationals this time punished Hong Kong when it did the same thing against the Filipinos as Jayson Castro, Dondon Hontiveros, and Andray Blatche took turns knocking down their shots from beyond the arc.
“We knew Hong Kong is on us. They started man-to-man, they didn’t last long. I think teams will have trouble manning us,” said Baldwin. “Jason hit shots, Dondon hit some shots, Andray hit some shots. We prove that we can be dangerous against the zone as well. “
Castro, Hontiveros, and Blatche combined for 11 of Gilas 14 three-pointers. Castro, voted as member of the Mythical team during the 2013 Fiba Asia in Manila, was 5-of-6 from downtown, while Hontiveros was 4-of-6.
“We need to be a little more crisp in our attack against the zone. Sometimes we’re still searching a bit for right options. But big improvement (against Palestine),” added Baldwin. “Ball movement will get better and we’ll get better against the zone, so I suspect as we move forward, teams will think twice before they zone us.”