SMART Gilas Pilipinas 2.0 coach Chot Reyes tried his best to win the game against Uzbekistan without unleashing his full offensive arsenal on Sunday night.
However, there was no hiding the damage his shooters can do when they get into rhythm.
A Gilas team that couldn’t seem to shoot straight in its first two games in the Fiba Asia Cup in Tokyo was finally on target against lowly Uzbekistan on the way to a runaway 85-50 victory.
After going a combined 8-for-48 from three-point range in games against China ‘B’ and Lebanon, the Nationals made eight of 20 shots from beyond the arc against the Uzbeks and hit 46 percent of their shots from the perimeter.
Under normal circumstances, that should be very good news for Reyes, except that he had gone into the game determined to pull his punches and keep scouts from other teams guessing.
“We wanted to keep something from the scouts (of the other teams),” Reyes admitted after the game. “We played defense the way we wanted, but we held something back offensively.”
But there was no holding back Jeff Chan, who, after going just 1-for-11 from three-point distance in the first two games, made three right in the first half and finished with a team-high 20 points.
Jared Dillinger’s guns also can’t be muzzled as he scored 10 points off the bench. Even Matt Ganuelas got into the act, providing the night’s highlight plays with a two-handed slam and a fancy layup.
Reyes, at least, won’t have any complaints with the Gilas defense, which held the Uzbeks to the lowest output by any team in the tournament so far.
There was more good news for Gilas, which is now 2-1 and headed for the knockout stage.
The breezy win over Uzbekistan meant much-needed rest for naturalized player Marcus Douthit, a workhorse who had to carry the team on his shoulders in the 78-68 win over Lebanon a day earlier.
After scoring 25 points and pulling down 21 rebounds against the Lebanese, Douthit played just 14 minutes and scored nine points on Sunday.
Douthit figures to have more rest when Gilas plays minnow Macau at 11:30 a.m. on Monday, which should come in handy since Reyes needs him fresh and fit for the knockout rounds.