At 1-1 in the standings, the Gilas boys shift their focus on their much-needed games versus Russia and Canada

By Klyde Manansala | Photos by Tristan Tamayo

Gilas Pilipinas opened their FIBA 3×3 World Cup stint with an emphatic win over Brazil, 15-7.

In a field of 20 teams, host team Gilas Pilipinas is seeded 19th, which is why beating the number six seed opened the floodgates of expectations from the quartet of Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger, RR Pogoy, and Troy Rosario who all lived up to the hype after a victorious debut.

Come the evening game against Mongolia, Gilas stayed aggressive with an early 8-3 lead but lost composure and momentum mid-game as they eventually lost, 17-21, at the hands of the 2017 FIBA Asia 3×3 tournament champions.

Gilas’ well-played game against Brazil was the complete opposite of their performance against Mongolia. Throughout the course of their opening matches, Gilas showed one thing: aggressiveness. One earned them a win while another took away any chance of sitting comfortably in Pool C where the third-seeded Russians and 14th-seeded Canadians are also grouped.

Everything fell into place against Brazil—tight defense and balanced aggressive attack became their keys after holding their opponents to within just seven points. Pringle showed off his excellent ball handling skills and poured in four points. Pogoy did what he does best, draining two baskets beyond the arc, while Rosario and Standhardinger stayed aggressive by powering their way underneath the paint—a pretty win for an underdog team.

Gilas pretty much did the same against Mongolia after a fiery start. Only this time, too much physicality in defense during the mid-game dug them a hole. Gilas sloppily committed eight fouls including two unsportsmanlike fouls from Rosario and Pogoy. Add that misery to the hot-shooting of the 11th-seeds who sealed their 21-17 win by draining a heartbreaking long bomb.

The good thing about this defeat is that as early as now, Gilas can address the areas of improvement they have to work on given the fact that the team has limited time to prepare in a five-day tourney like this. Gilas should already be aware of these things: keeping their composure and the way they play defense. In terms of scoring, the team has nothing to worry about. They can light it up from the distance and we know it.

The good thing about this defeat is that as early as now, Gilas can address the areas of improvement they have to work on given the fact that the team has limited time to prepare in a five-day tourney like this

They had looks and chances against Mongolia—it’s their lack of experience in a tournament like this that cost them the game. By this time, if we’re being optimistic, it’s a good thing that Pogoy and the rest of the squad already figured out that they can’t afford to give away too many fouls despite the physical nature of a 3×3.

In addition, team chemistry and communication aren’t built in a snap. But with the two games they have played in which they won the first, we should have some confidence (but not complacency) that this team can develop better ball movement and make sounder decisions. In that way, with the talent they have, Gilas has a shot at beating their remaining opponents in Pool C.

Shooting the lights out from the outside, a Pringle and Pogoy explosion, and an outstanding dominance in the paint from Standhardinger and Rosario can make Gilas grind down a team like Russia and Canada. If things go the other way, we should just hold on to the hope that we are Filipinos and if there’s a country that’s well-familiar and great at playing half court games, it’s us.