MANILA, Philippines – Former Gilas Pilipinas star Marc Pingris believes the current national team could do with more hustle and effort, even against weaker teams in the 2017 SEABA Men's Championship.
The 35-year-old Pingris arrived late in the second half in time to witness live what was assessed as a dip in effort by the Philippines in a blowout 113-66 victory over Singapore on Saturday, May 13 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
"Baka mga nasa 4 or 5 (Maybe around 4 or 5)," Pingris answered when asked to grade Gilas' effort Saturday, with 10 being the highest.
"Nandoon 'yung pusong maglaro, pero hindi 'yun 'yung 100%. Kasi kung sa tutuusin, pag talagang seseryosohin nila, baka 20 points lang 'yung kalaban (Their heart is there but that's still not 100%. Because if they took it more seriously the opponent might have scored only 20 points)."
It was the second straight game the Filipinos handily won in a tournament where they aim to clinch gold to qualify for the FIBA Asia Cup and the Asian Qualifiers.
Considering the Philippines' basketball might in the Southeast Asia region, the coaching staff set a different goal for Gilas in the week-long tilt. They implored players to excel in hustle stats – numbers not found on standard stat sheets that indicate a team's effort – instead of the usual statistics like points, rebounds, assists, steals, and blocks.
Coach Chot Reyes admitted he didn't think Gilas could match or best its hustle numbers against Myanmar after Saturday's game. He was particularly not satisfied with the second half effort.
Pingris, long revered for his effort and energy on the floor for Gilas, explained from a player's perspective how much effort players exert relative to the opponent's competency.
"As a player kasi, pag nakita mong 'di gaanong kalakas 'yung team, parang hindi mo ibibigay 'yung 100% mo – kaya natin ‘yan, lie-low lang tayo. Ganun yung mindset ng player," he said.
"Pero pag natapat mong malakas, example, pag Korea or China 'yan, lahat 'yan magda-dive sa bola eh. 'Yun 'yung gusto kong sabihin na kahit 'di malakas 'yung team, ibigay talaga nila 'yung 100% nila."
(As a player when you see you're not up against a stronger team, you tend to not give your 100% – you think you can defeat them easily so you'll lie low. That's a player's mindset. But when you're against a strong team, for example Korea or China, everyone would be diving for the ball. I want to tell them that even if it's not a tough team, they must give their 100% effort.)
Reyes and his staff are tracking various hustle stats that include deflections, hockey assists (the passes that lead to an assist), screen assists (the screens that lead to made shots), and something the staff calls floor burns – defined by Reyes as "diving on the floor for the loose ball. Padamihan ng gasgas sa tuhod (collecting the most bruises on the knees)."
Other examples of hustle stats that are also tracked in the PBA include contested field goal misses on both two-pointers and 3-pointers, charges taken, and loose ball recoveries.
"I understand from the players' point of view, it's hard to get themselves ready and up all the time for these games, but we have to remain disciplined and prepare for the tougher games," Reyes said.
The Philippines will try to do better on Saturday, May 13, against a Malaysian side that Reyes expects to come out with good defense.
Pingris also noted playing one hundred percent in this tournament is an invaluable opportunity to develop discipline and good habits for the future.
"Kulang pa pero happy naman tayo kasi binibigay nila 'yung best nila," he said.
"Sa next game, ibigay nila 'yung 100% nila. Parang practice sa umaga 'yan eh. Pag 'di ka nag-practice ng 100%, hindi mo malalabas 'yung 100% sa laro."
(Still not enough but we're happy they're doing their best. In the next game, they should give it 100%. It's just like practice in the morning. If you don't practice 100%, you won't play 100%.) – Rappler.com