Getting Ready For the FIBA World Cup This September (Part 1)

This August 30 to September 14, all eyes will be on the over-achieving Gilas Pilipinas Squad as they go to war against the world’s best basketeers in the FIBA World Cup in Spain. After the euphoria over the silver-medal finish in last year’s FIBA ASIA Cup held in Manila, it’s back to the drawing boards to prepare for the bigger battles up ahead.

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PSA’s Executive of the Year awardee and the man responsible for Philippine basketball’s resurgence last year, Manny Pangilinan, has vowed to send a team that will compete. This is not going to be a sightseeing trip for Gilas, for they are expected to fight – and spill their guts out if need be – for flag and country.

Gilas Took the Silver and Qualified for the FIBA World Cup in Spain this year. (courtesy of balitangsportspilipinas.com)
Gilas Took the Silver and Qualified for the FIBA World Cup in Spain this year. (courtesy of balitangsportspilipinas.com)

But first things first. Should the entire team in last year’s successful campaign be retained? Or should the team be tweaked a bit for the ogres and bigger bodies expected to show up in the land of conquistadores in el Espana?

It's David against Goliath for the Gilas Team in Spain.
It’s David against Goliath for the Gilas Team in Spain.

To review the line-up, we had Jimmy Alapag, LA Tenorio, and Jayson Castro manning the Point Guard (PG) position; Jeff Chan, Gary David at Shooting Guard (SG); Larry Fonacier and Gabe Norwood alternated at SG and Small Forward (SF); Ranidel De Ocampo was a SF and Power Forward (PF) hybrid; Japeth Aguilar was a PF; Marc Pingris alternated at PF and Center (C); and Marcus Douthit and Junmar Fajardo patrolled the C slot.

The Gilas Team 2013 (courtesy of magnustoday.net)
The Gilas Team 2013 (courtesy of magnustoday.net)

The sentimental crowd will want to retain the entire team for Spain. They’ll demand that as a reward for all the hard work, the sacrifices, the blood and guts these cage warriors spilled during the FIBA Asia campaign. And they may have a valid point right there.

Jubilant after beating the Koreans in the semis. (courtesy of philstar.com)
Jubilant after beating the Koreans in the semis. (courtesy of philstar.com)

But suffice it to say that the competition in Spain will be far more difficult, with the opposition getting better, bigger and badder. Hence, there may be a need to review the line-up and look for alternatives.

Jayson Takes Center Stage (courtesy of gmanetwork.com)
Jayson Takes Center Stage (courtesy of gmanetwork.com)

There is this thing called the “Step Down Theory” in basketball. This theory states that as a player goes up to a higher level of play, his chances for success depends on his ability to adjust as he slides down to a position lower than that he is accustomed to playing. Simply stated, a center (C or a “5” guy) is well advised to “step down” to power forward (PF or a “4”) or even lower. The small forward (SF or the “3” guy) will have better chances duking it out as a shooting guard (SG or a “2”) or even as point guard (PG or the “1” guy).

To understand this theory better, let me relate to you a true story of a cager from Davao. A strong leaper, he was molded into a PF even though he was only 5′ 11″. Indeed, he was outstanding in Davao, but he could never reach Manila’s big leagues because he was simply undersized, and thus, overmatched at that position.

One day, a Manila cage veteran came and offered to help him – provided he was willing to “step down” to the SG or “2” spot. Imagine the changes he would have to make, from being a “4” to a “2”! But he saw the wisdom behind the move, and worked hard to master new SG moves. For that, this cager would move on to play in Manila’s big leagues.

Next, we discuss how the “Step Down Theory” relates to the forthcoming wars against the beanpoles and the bangers of Africa, Europe and the Americas in Spain.

For more stories on the Gilas team:

‘No Guts, No Glory’ Nights Recalled

The Day FIBA Asia Becomes A Serial Killer

(Cover photo courtesy of http://www.starmometer.com)

 

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