RAIN or Shine coach Yeng Guiao believes there’s no better player at Gilas Pilipinas capable of putting the clamps on the top gunners of the opposing teams other than Gabe Norwood.
Guiao is convinced Norwood’s athleticism and fine built easily make him perfect for the role as Gilas' top defensive stopper in the 27th Fiba-Asia Men’s Championship.
“Gabe’s role is nothing new to him anymore,” Guiao told Spin.ph on Saturday. “He’s a defensive stopper even during his college days. In fact, may napanood pa nga akong video ni Gabe na binabantayan niya si Rudy Gay (of the Toronto Raptors).”
Rain or Shine actually has two players on loan to Gilas Pilipinas, the other being shooter Jeff Chan, who led the national squad with 17 points on 5-of-7 triples against Jordan.
“If they (Norwood and Chan) contribute, para na rin kaming (Rain or Shine team) nag-contribute sa national team. We know they will both accomplish more because what they have accomplished so far is a mere validation of the character that we have ingrained in them in our team,” explained Guiao.
The athletic Rain or Shine guard showecased his defensive prowess on Friday by shutting down Jordan’s top gunner and naturalized player Jimmy Baxter in Gilas Pilipinas’ 77-71 victory before a crowd of more than 10,000 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The high-leaping Norwood finished the game with eight points, eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two big blocks, sparking the nationals’ swashbuckling second-half attack that turned the tables on the Jordanians.
Baxter, who exploded for 30 points in Jordan’s 87-91 loss to Chinese Taipei on opening day, was held down to just 14 as he struggled to get past Norwood’s leech-like defense.
“I think Gabe is the best defensive player in the team right now. He has the attributes of a player who could play in the international level, being athletic and tall,” said Guiao. "We are really proud of what he has been doing for the (national) team."