MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas' team for the 2019 Southeast Asian Games looks better than the squad sent to the FIBA World Cup.
That's the conclusion Indonesia head coach Rajko Toroman came to after his side got dealt a lopsided 70-97 defeat by Gilas Pilipinas in their knockout semifinal clash in the SEA Games men's basketball competition on Monday, December 9.
"I think they still have better chemistry than the team from World Cup," said Toroman, who coached the first Gilas Pilipinas crew assembled almost a decade ago.
He added: "I think that this team is better than the team in the World Cup, despite that [Andray] Blatche played in the World Cup."
"You have some individual quality with Blatche, but they didn't have chemistry. They didn't play together. It was more individual play than the team play."
"Tactically, this team is much better. They have better chemistry, they have better size, they play for each other."
Sorrow was the theme for the country in the World Cup last September as it dropped all of its 5 games with a point differential of -147, which resulted in a last-place finish among the 32 participating nations.
Fast forward to the SEA Games, the Philippines – parading an all-pro lineup for the first time in the history of the regional showpiece – is back in winning form.
Gilas Pilipinas annihilated Singapore, Vietnam, and Myanmar in a preliminary-round sweep by an average of 54.0 points before punching its finals ticket with a 27-point demolition of Indonesia.
Although it can be argued that the level of competition between the SEA Games and the World Cup is miles apart, Toroman still feels the current team has the edge.
"They have individual quality but everybody is looking for the team. That's a better team than the team which participated in the World Cup. They have experience, they have great shooters," Toroman said.
Speaking of shooters, the World Cup squad missed the services of Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright, who sustained injuries in the run-up to the tournament.
Now healthy, the two have been making it rain in the SEA Games, with Wright averaging 15.5 points and Lassiter norming 8.8 points.
"In the World Cup, Marcio, who is the great shooter and great defender, was not there. Matthew Wright was not there," Toroman said.
"For me that's two of the best shooters in the PBA and best defender, they play on both sides of the court. They missed them in the World Cup."
"I think that the Philippines in this moment is very, very strong." – 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.