FORMER Philippine men’s basketball team coach Joe Lipa said a “change in playing style” could help Gilas Pilipinas achieve its goal in the Fiba-Asia Championship in Manila.
Lipa said he believes Gilas Pilipinas “should play a less conventional way of basketball” to pull the rug from under regional heavyweights Iran, China, and Korea and claim one of the three tickets to the World Championships in Spain next year.
“I think they have to try something very unorthodox,” said the veteran mentor, who steered the national team to a bronze medal in the 1986 Asian Games and a fourth-place finishg in Fiba-Asia’s precursor, the Asian Basketball Championships in 1987.
The Filipino dribblers, behind their hot-shooting wingmen, naturalized center Marcus Douthit, and timely defensive plays, are on course to finishing second in Group E in the second round of the prelims - a position that put them right on the path of China in the quarterfinals and Iran in the semifinals.
Gilas may have a better chance against this teams by trying a novel approach, Lipa said.
“In Southeast Asia, we are the Americans of basketball. But on a level higher like this, we are no longer the Americans, so we can no longer play the conventional type of basketball.”
“We have to play something very unique, which should offset the height (disadvantage),” added Lipa, who had playmakers Ronnie Magsanoc, Eric Altamirano, and Dindo Pumaren; wingmen in Allan Caidic, Jojo Lastimosa, Samboy Lim and Glenn Capacio; and big men Jerry Codiñera and Alvin Patrimonio at his disposal in the Seoul Asiad almost three decades ago.
Pressed to expound, Lipa could only say that Gilas should play to its strengths. “I think we’ve got to work better on transition offense and more of shooting.”
On the defensive side, Lipa believes Gilas should improve on its perimeter defense, which he felt was lacking in the Filipinos’ 84-79 loss to Chinese Taipei last Saturday when the hosts gave up 15 triples late in the fourth quarter that hastened their downfall.
“We’ll always be hammered inside because we don’t have height. But Taipei, they killed us from the outside and I think that’s where we’re very unprepared for – in the perimeter. I think we are centered on preparing the inside.”