For Latvia coach, Gilas Pilipinas’ size, defense set upset tone

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

For Latvia coach, Gilas Pilipinas’ size, defense set upset tone

TOWERING. Gilas Pilipinas' Kai Sotto goes for a rebound against Latvia in the FIBA Olympic qualifiers.


In perhaps a first in Gilas Pilipinas history, a European coach commends the Filipinos’ size and positional length following the team’s monumental upset of world No. 6 Latvia

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas’ triangle offense got its flowers after an 89-80 stunner over Latvia, but beyond the scoring, defense proved to be the difference maker against one of the top teams in Europe. 

Latvia head coach Luca Banchi pointed to the Filipinos’ size, which shut down driving lanes and forced the world No. 6 Latvians to take tougher shots than usual during their FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament match in Riga on Wednesday, July 3 (Thursday, July 4, Manila time).

“Better to talk also about their defensive system, not only offensive system,” said Banchi.

“I believe that also defensively, their system, their size, and their lineup typology closed the paint very well.”

In perhaps a first in Gilas history, Banchi – who was named Best Coach in the 2023 FIBA World Cup in Manila – commended the Filipinos’ size and positional length. 

These Gilas traits, he said, disrupted the vaunted offense of Latvia, which ranked second in three-point shooting and third in overall field goal makes in last year’s World Cup. 

Gilas head coach Tim Cone leaned heavily on his starting unit – 6-foot-4 Dwight Ramos, 6-foot-2 Chris Newsome, 6-foot-7 Justin Brownlee, 6-foot-11 June Mar Fajardo, and 7-foot-2 Kai Sotto. 

The monumental upset saw the Philippines scoring its first win over a European team in over 60 years in a FIBA competition, the last an 84-82 nipping of Spain in the 1960 Rome Olympics.

Banchi highlighted how Gilas forced the Latvians to take 42 shots from three-point range, 13 more than they took against Georgia in their opening-day win, 83-55

“It caused 40 and more shots [in] three points, which we scored only 10, so I would say their decision to collapse the lane was successful,” said Banchi as Latvia shot 10-for-42 (23.8%) from long range in the game. 

According to Banchi, the Filipinos’ rebounding advantage also turned out to be a surprise as GIlas outrebounded Latvia, 43-34.

“Their size allowed them to control the rebounds, and if I have to compare from [our game against Georgia], we had less second opportunity,” said Banchi, as they finished the group phase with a 1-1 record.

Cone’s triangle

Cone credited Gilas’ offensive system in laying the groundwork for their defensive game plan. 

“It’s an offense, if I may say, that plays at a tempo in which you can play defense, and that’s why I love it so much,” said Cone of his triangle system. 

“I’m kind of famous for the triangle, but I really feel I’m more of a defensive-oriented coach, and that offense just helps me to run the defense.”

Unlike the fast-paced offenses from European teams, Cone’s triangle offense – which was revered back in the 1990s when the Chicago Bulls used it to win six NBA titles and again in the Los Angeles Lakers teams of the 2000s that won a three-peat – plays on a slower pace and minimal individual shot making. 

The offensive system is predicated in on-court awareness and decision-making, allowing teams to conserve their defensive energy when they go down the other end. 

However, with the rise of more motion-based systems, the triangle has received flak for being outdated, even obsolete, especially when it was used by the NBA’s New York Knicks in the mid-2010s. 

Even in places like Europe and North America, the triangle is already a rare system. 

“They have an efficient offensive system. It’s not simple, it’s not common, not only in Europe but in general,” said Banchi. “It’s not common to have teams who run such system.”

For Cone, it’s all about sticking to what works.

“When I came into camp with the players, I said to them that this is what I know best,” he said, adding, “this is what I can teach best, so we will live and die with this.”  –

Must Read

FAST FACTS: Gilas Pilipinas’ last shot at Paris Olympics

FAST FACTS: Gilas Pilipinas’ last shot at Paris Olympics

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!