With the needed victory already secured to virtually seal its place in the quarterfinal round, the Philippine basketball team will be facing powerhouse China on Tuesday seeking another win in the hope of an easy sailing on the way to earning, too, a slot in the Final Four.
“China, as always, will be a tough nut to crack,” coach Yeng Guiao told The Manila Times in a long distance interview on Sunday. “But with the way the boys played in our victory over Kazakhstan in our opening game and the arrival of Jordan Clarkson, I believe our chances of scoring an upset improved a little.”
“If our boys can continue the way they played against Kazakhstan at ma-improve pa sa presence ni Jordan, winning, although slim as it seems, is not that remote. Nakahanda kami sa anumang mangyayari” Guiao said.
The key, the NLEX mentor in the PBA said is how to defend against the taller, heftier Chinese, who he added, are also great shooters with high basketball IQs.
“Definitely, the Chinese are taller, bigger. Given na ‘yun, but, definitely, too, they’re slower,” Guiao projected. “We’re quicker than they are, an advantage that we can exploit to the hilt. Because of our quickness and with Jordan helping our small boys like Stanley (Pringle), Paul (Lee), Mavrick (Ahanmisi), we can create situation favorable to us.”
“And, of course, kailangan pumutok ang ating outside shooting. We have plenty of that with James (Yap) there, Chris (Tiu), Gabe Norwood and, of course Jordan,” he stressed.
“Kahit our biggies can shoot from outside, di ba? Beau (Belga), Raymond (Almazan), Poy (Erram). Pati nga si Asi (Taulava) sumisyut na rin sa labas, “Guiao said chuckling. “Christian (Stanhardinger)? Well, pakikinabangan siya sa rebound, depensa at hustle.”
“We had a four-day practice since he set foot here and since our game against the Kazakhs at maganda na naman naging resulta,” Guiao said. “Jordan is a pro, ito namang nadanaan niya dito ay mga pro din, so nagkaintindihan naman sila agad.”
Guiao heaped praises on the Filipino-American no. 2 guard of the NBA runners up Cleveland Cavaliers saying; “Magaling na bata, mabait, very humble at maganda ang breeding. Mahusay ang work ethics. Kaya nakasundo agad ng bago niyang teammates.”
“Pilipinong-Pilipino ang ugali, kilos, gawa at pananalita,” he attested. “And most importantly, he really wants to play for the Philippine team. He promised daw his Filipina lola and parents na if given a chance to play for the country, he’ll do everything so his countrymen will be proud of him.”
“Kung noong di pa dumarating si Jordan ay para na kaming pamilya, lalo na ngayon. Kuya na nga ang turing ng mga batang player kay Jordan, kay James, Chris at Gabe. Si Asi ang tito nila,” he asserted with a loud laugh.
“One other thing nga pala and this I want to clarify. Some quarters daw were asking why the team is not called Elasto Painters as a tribute to Rain or Shine, whose nucleus makes the team. First I would just like to assure that RoS owners are not that selfish para mag-demand ng ganun para lang magamit ang kanilang players,” he said in reference to Painters co-owners Raymond Yu and Terry Que.
“Kilala ko silang dalawa sa tagal ng aming pagsasama. When they volunteered their players to form the core of the national team, walang nagtulak sa kanila na gawin ‘yun kundi ang pagmamahal sa bayan,” Guiao continued.
“Call us whatever name they would want to call us. Basta kami, bago pa lang kami umalis ng bansa ang alam namin Team Pilipinas kami. Pilipino kaming lahat na lalaban dala ang pangalan ng ating bayan at ng lahing Pilipino,” Guiao exclaimed.