SEVILLE, SPAIN - As soon as it was his turn to speak on the head table, Puerto Rican star JJ Barea immediately gave a little salute to his fellow 'little men' from the Philippines.
And it was no small compliment.
"First of all, the Philippines is a great team. They have a lot of confidence, you have to give credit to them," the diminutive point guard of the Minnesota Timberwolves said, moments after leading Puerto Rico to a 77-73 win over Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba World Cup.
The 5-foot-11 Barea, one of the smallest point guards in the NBA, stood 10 foot tall on Wednesday night as he scored 30 points while going up alternately against Gilas guards LA Tenorio, Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag and, for a short time, even Gabe Norwood.
The NBA veteran had the last say in the war or attrition, scoring 10 points inside the final four minutes to spare Puerto Rico blushes. In contrast, Tenorio had 18 points for Gilas on 6-of-9 shooting, Alapag had six points while Castro never got untracked and finished with four.
Still, the Filipino guards played tough enough to make an impression on the NBA guard.
"They have shooters, little point guards like me, but very tough," he said. "So a lot of credit to them."