Preview: Gilas Pilipinas vs Japan
Game Time: 8:30pm
2011 FIBA Asia Tournament: Gilas beat Japan, 83-76
2011 Jones Cup: Gilas over Japan, 94-78
2010 Jones Cup: Japan over Gilas, 84-74
2009 FIBA Asia Tournament: Powerade Team Pilipinas over Japan, 78-69
What Gilas should look out for:
1. Sniping from Kosuke Kanamaru & KJ Matsui
So far, Gilas has struggled against the gunners of their last two opponents -- Jordan and Taiwan. Wesam Al Sous (JOR), Mohammad Hadrab (JOR), Lin Chih-Chieh (TPE), and Lu Cheng-Ju (TPE) all torched Gilas with multiple triples, and it stands to reason Kanamaru and Matsui, Japan's top snipers, might do the same thing.
Kanamaru, in particular, has been on fire. The former Panasonic Trians wingman has connected on 75% of his threes -- SEVENTY FIVE PERCENT. #WhatIsInsane Matsui, on the other hand, hasn't caught fire yet, but we don't want THAT to happen against Gilas. He already did it once before, going 8 OF 8 from rainbow country against Gilas in the 2011 Jones Cup. We won, of course, but, still, nobody's eager to see any of these guys get hot against the home team.
2. Twin-tower combo of JR Sakuragi and Kosuke Takeuchi
We haven't faced a team yet that has a potent twin-tower combo like Japan. Sure, Taiwan had Tseng Wen-Ting and Quincy Davis, but they didn't play together all that much against Gilas except for the fourth quarter, where we DID have a tough time against their double bigs up front.
We can expect Sakuragi to play very similarly to Davis. He has a nice shot from midrange and is very active around the basket on both ends. Takeuchi, on the other hand, is a little different from Tseng. Whereas Tseng is more of a big man playmaker, Takeuchi is on the court to rebound and to score. Both guys have combined for 22.5ppg and 18.5rpg so far, and if coach Chot chooses to go small against Team Hayabusa, these two will probably exploit that.
3. Big playmakers -- Ryota Sakurai & Makoto Hiejima
Gilas has always had problems against big guards, and tonight's game against Japan might be no different. Sakurai is a legit Gabe Norwood-ish 6'5 playmaker, while Hiejima has, at 6'3, a good balance of size and speed.
I believe our PGs -- Jayson, Jimmy, and LA -- are all quicker than these two, but, again like Taiwan, if any of our small boys get caught down low with these guys posting up of slashing, Gilas will have a tough problem in its hands. Both are also very good finishers in transition, so it's imperative we avoid turning the ball over more than we should.
We can exploit:
1. Our speed advantage
Like what's been said, our PGs are maybe the fastest in the tournament. Jayson Castro, can blow by ANYONE, while Jimmy Alapag and LA Tenorio are just such smart floor generals. If Japan chooses to go small (like if they play Naoto Tsuji and KJ Matsui together), then we can go small, too. If they put someone like Sakurai or Hiejima on Jayson, then he'll probably just leave them in the dust. Speed will be our friend here, and we would do well to take advantage of that.
2. Our athleticism
Sakuragi is upwards of 35 years old and he is probably the most athletic guy on the Japanese squad already. Due to their size and athleticism, Marcus Douthit, Japeth Aguilar, and Marc Pingris shouldn't have a very tough time winning the battle of the boards and going after those lay-ups.
3. The boisterous crowd
I doubt if the crowd at the MOA Arena will reach 19,000 tonight, but I hope at least that no matter how many show up, they will be very noisy. Aside from speed, noise will be our ally every match, and, again, we should take advantage. If the crowd is loud enough, then it will make communication on the court tougher for Japan and it should also rattle them a little bit.
Overall, I think Gilas has a solid shot at winning over Japan tonight, but we cannot afford another slow start, and we definitely have to contain those Nippon shooters. If we manage to do that, then Gilas should have its 3rd win by the day's end.
Odds: 70-30 in favor of Gilas Pilipinas. - Rappler.com