Gilas Grades: Marked improvement augurs well for FIBA OQT campaign

Our National Team, Gilas Pilipinas, played their final exhibition game on Friday night at the MOA Arena vs the Turkey NT. Even though Gilas had a 6-point lead during the 1st quarter, our NT trailed for most of the game.

Turkey’s biggest lead was 17 points during the 2nd half.

Gilas Pilipinas continued to battle and they got as close as 6 points during the final minute. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough time and Turkey ended with the victory, 84-76.

So before the real games begin on July 5, here are reactions and grades for Gilas Pilipinas after their game versus Turkey.

Japeth Aguilar – C
As one of the legitimate tall guys on the team, Aguilar did not play particularly well (3 points and 1 rebound) on 7 minutes of action. It is possible that the size and physicality of Turkey’s big men bothered him, thus, making him ineffective. Aguilar has to markedly improve his play because every team in this tournament will be taller than Gilas. He needs to play “big” and his midrange jumper must be a threat.

Andray Blatche – A+
Blatche was the best player for Gilas last night and if he continues to do that, then Gilas will probably have a chance to win every game during the Manila OQT. He displayed his all-around talents with 20 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and 1 block, but he was hounded by 5 turnovers and ill-advised shots from the perimeter. Hopefully, Kuya ‘Dray did not get hurt that bad because he was hobbling a little bit during the latter part of the 4th period.

Jayson Castro – A
Castro was impressive on offense as he mixed his jumpers and drives to the paint. He hit 2 triples while also attacking the rim which earned him trips to the foul line. The Blur also provided respectable playmaking as he rarely dominated the ball on offense which gave him 3 assists and only 1 turnover. As for his defense, it was okay (1 steal), but Castro needs to improve his defensive pressure and coverage during pick and rolls. Constant communication with his teammates on switches or shows must progress.

Jeff Chan – C+
It was great to see Chan moving fine and appearing completely healthy. The last time Gilas played here vs Iran, the sharpshooter was unavailable to play. Against Turkey, he logged 23 minutes and was active defensively. Sadly, he did not make any of his shots (all threes) as he finished with zero points. Still, it was an encouraging sign that he played that much and he was able to launch shots. Hopefully, he starts making them more often next week.

Ranidel de Ocampo – C
RDO had an awful game. It did not matter that he started because he was unproductive during his stint. He ended with zero point and 1 rebound, perhaps because Turkey’s size bothered him as well. Still, he did manage to launch a couple of treys that missed but at least De Ocampo wasn’t shy and he was playing to his strengths. The team needs RDO to get going offensively because he is our best shooting forward.

June Mar Fajardo – C+
Fajardo actually played okay even if he just had 2 points and 2 boards. JMF was decisive with the ball and he didn’t appear intimidated by Turkey. On defense, it was somewhat a bad night for Fajardo because he racked up 4 fouls in just over 9 minutes. On the bright side, most of his fouls occurred because JMF helped on defense and challenged drives to the paint.

Gabe Norwood – B+
Norwood started the game and played the 2nd most minutes after Blatche. He deserved all of those minutes because Gabe was effective on both sides of the court, unlike the exhibition game vs Iran where he had no points. In this game, Norwood chipped in 10 points with 2 triples to go along with 6 rebounds (2nd most on Gilas). If Norwood continues to give Gilas something offensively, things become easier for Coach Tab because he can keep his best perimeter defender on the floor longer.

Ray Parks – B+
Parks continues to impress in his first stint with Gilas Pilipinas. He led the team in plus/minus with a net rating of +18. That was evident during his time on the court because Parks was active defensively and he looked to run in transition every time he had the ball. Parks wanted to make things happen. He finised with 6 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Still, his free throws need work because he was only 2 of 5.

Marc Pingris – C+
Pingris was relatively quiet in his 6 minutes of work (no points, 1 assist). However, he did his best damage when his mini-skirmish with NBA player, Omer Asik, resulted with Asik receiving his 5th foul and subsequently fouling out from the game. Ping showed a lot of guts and courage to stand up against bigger competition. Hopefully, the rest of the team follows his lead starting next week.

Ryan Reyes – B
While his defense does not take games off, his offense was mostly quiet last night (2 points on 1 of 2 shooting). Reyes was unable to contribute much in scoring and he often found himself either covered or reluctant to pull the trigger. Gilas needs him to always be a threat on the perimeter because he is one of our best options from long range.

Terrence Romeo – A
Romeo scored all of his 16 points in the 2nd half. He was sizzling near the end of the 4th as he brought Gilas within 6 points. His backcourt pressure defense was effective when paired with Ray Parks, and this strategy will probably be used more often in the future. Of course, Romeo can still improve his shot selection and passing, but at this point, Romeo is our top local scorer and it might be best to utilize those skills instead of forcing him to be a passer when it isn’t his strength yet.

Troy Rosario – B
Aside from Blatche, Rosario was the other big guy who played solid during his almost 14 minutes of action. Rosario wasn’t fearful of attacking the paint as he connected with 2 baskets in the shaded lane. He was always moving on offense and he was rewarded with opportunities up close. However, his jumpers missed their mark and more rebounds from him would be better.

Team Grade – B
Gilas Pilipinas did not win this exhibition but they battled and gave maximum effort. It has to be a moral victory of sorts because they lost under double digits and they showed improvement versus Turkey. Remember a couple of weeks ago, Gilas got trounced by 35 points to the same team, so, this has to be an encouraging sign for our National Team. Nevertheless, Gilas needs better free-throw shooting and the threes have to start falling. #LabanPilipinas #PUSO #ManilaOQT – By Rolly Mendoza

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