For two games in a row, the Philippine National Basketball team made up of collegiate standouts was beaten by the opposition in the FIBA Asia Challenge, teams whom we used to beat in the Asian level of competition. The surprise came as early as the first game of the tournament for the nationals as they were beaten by a vastly improved and tall Indian side 91-83.
The story of the game says it all. We only shot 32.1% from 2 point distance against India’s 53.2%, 58.3% from the free throw line against 69.7%, and were beaten to the boards 55 against 47. Most notable is India scoring 22 fastbreak points against only 2 for the Philippines. Where is our transition defense? This team was supposed to be built on the foundation of speed to compensate the lack of size and outside shooting. But the team who was thought to be slower than us beat us in this category. Again the lack of experience playing and defending in the international game was evident with the Philippines committing 31 against India’s 22. Amjyot Singh made it a long night for our boys with and all-around performance scoring 24 points grabbing 18 rebounds issuing 2 assists and register 1 block and a steal.
The second game against Chinese – Taipei was no different as the National Team was beaten 87-76. Chinese-Taipei relied on the heroics of naturalized center Quincy Davis III who produced double-double numbers in scoring 19 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. We have to take not that the highest rebounder for us is former DLSU big man Arnold Van Opstal putting a gallant stand with his 8 rebounds. Chinese-Taipei just owned us in this game shooting 53.5% from the 2 point area against only 45.5%, the nationals only shot a pitiful 13% from beyond the arc. Again our boys were eaten alive in the rebounding department with Chinese-Taipei grabbing 57, 17 more against our 40.
The game against China was no different. We were beaten in the rebounding department 47 to 35, shot only 18.2% from beyond the arc and shot a horrendous 60.0% from the free-throw line against the opposition’s 80.6%.
The only consolation as of now was the victory against Kazakhstan where our boys shot 40.9% from beyond the arc compared to a miserable 5.3% of the Kazakhs, made more assists 15 to 8 and making everyone involved with 57 bench points to only 24 for Kazakhstan.
While it is understandable that the national team participated in this tournament with the aim of learning and developing for future battles ahead since the qualifying stage for the 2019 FIBA world cup will start next year, one question begs? How can you build without your builder? How can you learn without your teacher? And how will you survive without your very father who sustains you in every battle? Coach Tab Baldwin has designated assistant Coach Josh Reyes to spearhead this campaign giving the young coach his opportunity to learn and develop as he fulfills his duty as consultant (although he is constantly seen to call the shots) for the UAAP campaign of the Ateneo Blue Eagles.
There is a shady part on this one because our boys who are battling it out there in Tehran can learn more and make the most out of this experience and exposure if Coach Tab Baldwin was there to lead them. This is the complete opposite of Coach Rajko Toroman who was with his players in every battle they engaged in and out of the country. What is the implication of this? School over country? This mindset has to change if Coach Baldwin wants to be successful in developing his new crew in time for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers and time is not on his side. Ron Jacobs took 5 years to make his team play like a well oiled machine, Rajko Toroman did it in 3 years. If this trend and attitude continues, be ready with your hankies to wipe your tears as our national team would probably whipped by the opposition especially now with Australia and New Zealand joining the FIBA Asia zone.
Hope our basketball officials hear us before it is too late.