MANILA, Philippines – Coach Tim Cone has an abundance of talent at his disposal for the Southeast Asian Games, but with that also comes the task of preventing Gilas Pilipinas from playing like an All-Star team.
In the PBA, NBA, and other basketball leagues all over the world, All-Star squads tend to lack effort on defense and resort to isolation plays, which defeat the purpose of team basketball.
That is something Cone wants to avoid as Gilas Pilipinas shoots for a 13th straight SEA Games gold medal and 18th overall at its home turf.
"Our challenge at this point is to make sure we're not an All-Star team. We don't want to play like an All-Star team," Cone said after Gilas Pilipinas escaped Alab Pilipinas in their tuneup game on Monday, November 4.
"That's what All-Star teams are: you bring a bunch of guys, they have limited practice, they go out and they play, they don't have any concept in terms of defense – not really a real desire to play defense. We want to get beyond that."
Cone added that while All-Star teams are a great collection of players, they still do not qualify as a standard of a "good team."
"We need to be a good team. Whether we can do that in the short window that we have is going to be our biggest challenge."
Their narrow win over Alab Pilipinas underlined how much Cone and his crew need to polish their rough edges, especially with other nations looking to end the Philippines' basketball reign in the region.
Among them is Indonesia, which will be mentored by former Gilas Pilipinas head coach Rajko Toroman and will be reinforced by PBA import Lester Prosper.
"We were pretty, and at times, we were really ugly," Cone said of Gilas' performance against Alab Pilipinas.
"At this point, we still are an All-Star team. We hope to move beyond that."
Gilas Pilipinas will face Alab Pilipinas anew next Monday, November 11, and will tangle with a visiting team from Taiwan in another friendly match on November 18. – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.