Photo from Asian Games PH media pool
JAKARTA, Indonesia – Fifty minutes.
That's the only amount of time accorded the Philippine men's basketball team by the 2018 Asian Games organizers here for practice.
And for a two-week-old national quintet trying to fit Fil-Am NBA star Jordan Clarkson into coach Yeng Guiao's system, that is indeed a challenge everyone must face.
“Our only problem is the regular practice is arranged by the organizers, nakaka-practice namin siya (Clarkson) 50 minutes lang (He was only able to practice for 50 minutes),” Guiao said.
Good thing Clarkson picked up Guiao's plays fast.
“High IQ talaga, he caught on the plays 35 to 40 minutes, picked them up really fast," said Guiao.
"We did not have to prolong practice because everybody’s tired. We just came from the game and he came from a 17-hour flight. Then, pahinga siya sandali then pumunta ng practice (he just rested for awhile then went straight to practice)."
"We hope that by the China game, they become natural, automatic – our cohesiveness with him,” added Guiao. (READ: Clarkson-less Gilas crushes Kazakhstan in Asian Games)
The NLEX coach-turned-national team mentor heaped praises on his “new weapon” and for good reason.
“That’s a quality of a good player, a quality of a good person who’s been brought up really well," said Guiao. "You know his upbringing is really good. Siguro we can take a little good credit of that kasi nga may dugo siyang Pilipino (Maybe we can take a little good credit because he has Filipino blood)."
"He’s very Filipino actually. Very accommodating, quiet,” added Guiao. "He appreciates the efforts of people around him to make him comfortable, relaxed. Maayos naman ito (He's good)."
“You can see that he’s in shape. You can see that he’s very quick. You can see that his skills are defined and fine tuned. But I don’t see any problem with his intelligence, his abilities. He can blend in and he’s going to lead this team – hopefully deep into the playoffs, into the medal round,” said Guiao.
On Friday, August 17, Guiao, the players and Clarkson again had 50 minutes to get the Cleveland Cavaliers' guard more accustomed to their offense and defensive schemes. (READ: Jordan Clarkson gets first Gilas glimpse)
Guiao hopes basketball officials can get another gym so that they can at least have twice-a-day sessions from Saturday to Monday, before their Tuesday game against Asiad favorite China, which is backstopped by NBA players Zhou Qi of the Houston Rockets and Ding Yanyuhang of the Dallas Mavericks.
Game time is at 4 p.m. (5 p.m. Manila time).
The plan is for Clarkson to facilitate the team's offense and not become its primary scorer.
“We don't need him to score 50. What’s good for us is he can attract a lot of attention. That’s going to free up our local shooters. Our local scorers," said Guiao.
"It might be very useful for us, especially against China. Malalaki sila masyado (They're too tall)," he continued. "We will need that shooting window and if you cannot get that shooting window a lot from our big man. With him, he draws the attention of the defense and we will get that opportunity to score. He will know when to decoy and he will know when to score.” – Rappler.com