AS far as Juan Cutillas is concerned, two players were key to the success of the Philippine men’s basketball team that won the Asian Basketball Championship (now known as Fiba-Asia) on home turf in 1973.
Their names: William `Bogs’ Adornado and Robert Jaworski.
Cutillas, who served as conditioning coach of the last all-Filipino squad to win the most important basketball championship in the region, said Jaworski and Adornado stood out not only for their consistent outside shooting but more for their exceptional basketball IQ.
“Adornado and Jaworski, they’re very good shooters, they have very good eye (for the basket). They score from outside a lot … very consistent,” said the Spaniard of the two Hall of Fame players.
Cutillas said Jaworski and Adornado’s outside shooting made up for the team’s lack of height, as opponents were forced to adjust and scatter their defenders.
At the same time, Cutillas lauded the basketball IQ of the two PBA legends, who he said can both locate open teammates and make the pass by instinct.
Also a former coach of the national football team, Cutillas conceded the Gilas Pilipinas team of coach Chot Reyes is "far better in terms of height, experience, and basketball science’ than its 1973 counterpart.
Cutillas also emphasized the current pool of talent is a lot deeper, owing to the present parity in the PBA where most of the national team players come from.
But in terms of individual skills, Cutillas acknowledges the players of the past are still superior than today's generation of players.
“We have Jaworski, Ramon Fernandez, and Adornado who I believe, if they are in their prime now, can easily make it to the new (Gilas) team because their skills are just amazing,” said Cutillas, whose recent coaching stint was with Kaya in the United Football League.
The 70-year-old coach likewise agreed that basketball competition around the world has evolved and that it is even a lot tougher now for the Philippines to leave its mark owing to the legalization of naturalized players.
Despite the lack of height, Cutillas considers the Filipinos among the best players in the Asian region.
“If teams (here in Asia) are not naturalizing players … for sure the Philippines will always be in the Top Three (in Asia),” Cutillas insisted.
Tonichi Yturri, a member of the last PH team to win the FIBA-Asia championship in 1986, readily agreed.
Yturri, a back-up big man for coach Ron Jacobs’ fabled Northern Consolidated squad that included naturalized players Jeff Moore and Dennis Still, said outside shooting will definitely make a difference in the Fiba-Asia campaign - something which he said Gary David, Jimmy Alapag, and Jeff Chan can provide.
“Gary (David) can be the Jaworski, he has a terrific outside and inside game. Si Jeff can shoot and can also attack, while Jimmy has a very, very long range,” said the former De La Salle stalwart, now an Air 21 Express assistant coach to Franz Pumaren.
Yturri also believes Gilas Pilipinas has a very good chance of landing in the Top Three and earn an outright spot to the 2014 Fiba-World Basketball Championship in Spain.
“Oo naman, they have been given ample time, plus they have the support of the crowd,” Yturri said.
(Editor's note: Jaworski is celebrating his birthday on Friday)