IN TRUE Gilas tradition, the Philippine contingent at the inaugural Fiba Esports Open blew past their Indonesian opponents for two decisive back-to-back wins to open the tourney.
The Indonesians never stood a chance against the starting five of point guard Aljon "Shintarou" Cruzin, shooting guard Rial "Rial" Polog Jr., small forward Custer "Aguila" Galas, power forward Clark "Clark" Banzon, and center Philippe "Izzo" Herrero IV.
Playing under ProAm 5 versus 5 rules, each national squad takes control of a created player character in four five-minute quarters.
It was Shintarou who provided the fireworks for the two games, with 22 points in Game 1, and 21 points in Game 2.
“Solid ang performance sa both games,” Rial said to SPIN Life after the double-header. “Si Shintarou ang nag-lead sa offense. Si Aguila naman defensively.”
Aguila himself added 17 points to the scoreboards in the breakaway Game 2, while Rial contributed 10.
The secret to E-Gilas’ success? “Biggest advantage po namin is yung chemistry namin as a team and yung in game adjustments namin,” said Rial.
He added: “Plus experienced na rin [kami] dahil matagal na kami magkakasama.”
As Fiba commentators noted, the NBA 2K scene in the Philippines is at a more mature level compared to its neighbor, with some of these players cutting their teeth into the game as early as NBA 2K3.
The opening minutes of the second game, however, gave the Philippine squad pause, as the Indonesians adjusted their defense and kept the scoring to a low single digits.
But by the time the second half rolled around, “Nakuha namin yung momentum nun kaya nakalayo na kami hanggang sa dulo,” said Rial.