2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers: Gilas Pilipinas Lineup

If you are still unaware, Gilas Pilipinas has already released its 23-man pool where they would select their final roster that would compete in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers (Asia) against Japan on November 24 and Chinese Taipei on November 27 of this year.

And as expected many did also have their own say on whom they would wish for the Final 12 — in which we actually considered 9 of their choices, namely: Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, RR Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Raymond Almazan, and Japeth Aguilar while dropping out June Mar Fajardo, Kiefer Ravena and Calvin Abueva.

Why?

While it’s good to have Blatche back, consider excluding Fajardo

While Fajardo is a tall and talented 4-time PBA MVP — this basketball-loving country just has to accept that he is slow for international competitions. Maybe he could be useful against less talented teams but against much better ones, they could just play small ball to Gilas’ demise if Fajardo is on the floor.

Okay, Ravena may have lots of international experience — then again, those were just against fellow southeast Asians, weaker opponents or just in 3-on-3 tourneys — but just like Fajardo, he’s pretty slow. In fact, he’s interestingly slow for a player of his height. Comparing him to 6-foot players back then — Samboy Lim has some hang time which makes him tough to defend while his father, Bong Ravena, was quicker and more athletic than he was. With that, Kiefer’s attacks that were effective against most competition he has faced would, more often than not, find its way to the hoop only through luck especially against Australia whom they are also grouped with.

Gilas is scheduled to play Patty Mills and the Australians on 22 February 2018

Now, Calvin Abueva. Despite his years in playing the game, he is still like awkward — he’s even got poor free-throw shooting; and the only thing that’s actually carrying him in the game is his rough style which suits the Filipino audience but surely not outside the country. Still, if only to choose between him and Ravena, he’d be a better choice since he’s a little taller while his roughness could somehow scare the opponents.

Asian Groupings: 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

In the end, to achieve some measure of success, Gilas should learn to adapt to the international brand of play which is about speed and perimeter shooting more than post presence. And don’t forget defense. These then should be the guide in finalizing their lineup.

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Martina Hingis: Women’s Doubles World Number One and her Legacy

So, the Swiss Miss Martina Hingis and her doubles partner Chan Yung-jan of Taiwan has been on a tear as they have won 3 titles in the last 30 days — helping her regain the Women’s Doubles World Number One Ranking.

The 2017 US Open, the Wuhan Open and just hours ago, the China Open against Timea Babos (HUN) and Andrea Hlaváčková (CZE), 6-1, 6-4.

Wow, how hectic?! That’s like 3 tournaments in a month! And more so if you are aware that Hingis even participates in the Mixed Doubles — in fact, she along with Jamie Murray were crowned champions in this year’s US Open.

Well, Hingis’ latest jewel, the China Open is already her 64th career doubles title as she continues to build on her legacy which has spanned over 20 years since her heyday in the singles circuit. And by the way, did you know that she even became World Number One in Women’s Singles — 31 March 1997 — way ahead of tennis great Serena Williams (8 July 2002)? Yet Hingis is just a year older! However, nagging injuries as a consequence of competing at a tender age resulted in her retirement from singles play 10 years ago.

Hingis (1997), youngest Wimbledon champ at 16. Elected to Hall Of Fame in 2013.

Incidentally, Hingis’ head-to-head matchup with Serena is 6-7, these were mostly close games though both had matches of sweeping each other. Yes, she’s not a power player but she’s a swift and cerebral one that’s armed with a great serve-and-volley game whom Serena and other top players may not have beaten if not for her ‘soft tissues’ — and consequently, lack of focus which was most likely due to her injury trauma.

Hingis and Serena Williams (Photo: Clive Brunskill/ALLSPORT)

Now, it seems Hingis is on a mission. And that is to rake in as many titles from the back door. The doubles play. Hey, if your body isn’t strong enough for the rigors of playing in the singles circuit then playing with a partner could still get the job done. Perhaps as the greatest doubles player??

Hmm. That’s cerebral for you.

GILAS Pilipinas 101: Who’s Better — Isaiah Austin or Andray Blatche?

As expected, Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas placed 5th in the recently concluded 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup in Chenzhou, China — that is after beating Mono Vampire BC of Thailand, 89-79, where import Isaiah Austin recorded 37 points, 15 boards, 6 assists and 6 blocks.

Austin’s domination was not surprising though, after all, Chooks already faced the Thais earlier and won, 115-102 — so, both teams are already familiar with each other; however this game though was like fighting for reputation especially for Austin and the rest of the Philippine team. So.

But then, was this ‘dominating’ game enough to say that Isaiah Austin has been a good pick-up for Chooks-to-Go, and for Gilas to build with? More so, who’s the better import — Austin or Andray Blatche? Hmm. One game is only one game and Austin’s 7-game Champions Cup stats and physical makeup says he’s just an ‘average’ import — who may not be strong and fast but could maneuver in the post, not bad in free throws, rebounds well enough and is a pretty decent rim protector. Of course, all of these with consideration to the kind of competition he has faced in Chenzhou, China.

Nonetheless, if only for experience then Andray Blatche gets the nod here what with seven years in the NBA as well as greater familiarity with what Gilas does. Then again and in the case of basketball, experience only matters in one’s first game; after that baptism of fire, the player’s performance now really depends on his skills, character and to some extent — luck.

Austin gets swarmed by the Chinese as Chooks-to-Go gets beaten, 70-86

Okay, as an import, what are you expected to do anyway? Everything?? Sigh* Then the coaching staff must be weak as they just rely on one man to do it all! Think about this. Recruitment should depend on needs. Evaluation must be based on one’s position. Watch him play — then evaluate.

You don’t send him home if he could not do more than 5 dribbles, if he’s no PG-SF! Nor should you get him if only for experience, for that could mean he’s worn out. Check him out first, his health, his interest, things like that before going to the necessary skills of his position in today’s game.

Incidentally, Blatche didn’t suit up against Chooks-to-Go apparently for ‘loyalty’ reasons

And so, for athleticism and scoring — whether inside or at the perimeter — we give it to Blatche. He’s stronger and could hit jumpers. As for rebounding, this goes to Austin who averaged 13 boards a game here. Defense? While Austin could block shots, he doesn’t really try to harass every shot within his reach but just relies on his height in wait. Blatche, meanwhile, uses his body. Still, both of them could be lazy at times, thus, this category is a tie.

Now tell me, who do you think is better?

2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup: Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas battles for 5th Place

Fifth place. That’s the highest spot Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas could attain in this tournament as they are scheduled to play Shabab Al-Ahli of Dubai later at 4:45PM in Chenzhou, China.

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UPDATE: Our apologies. It appears that the game against Dubai today was for pairings and so, Chooks-to-Go would still have to play Mono Vampire of Thailand for 5th place that was after Chooks-to-Go won over Dubai, 92-57 while the Thais nipped Taipei Dacin Tigers, 92-89 in the other match. Their game would be tomorrow, Sep 30, 12:15PM. Either way, whoever Pilipinas battles for 5th place would likely still fall short considering each of the teams’ (5-8) brand of play. And that’s what matters — in-depth analysis more than just a non-Final Four schedule.

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This happened after Chooks-to-Go got trampled by China Kashgar last night, 70-86, in the 2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup. Incidentally, even the day before that, Chooks-to-Go also got a beating from Iran’s Petrochimi, 66-87. Wow! More than having a soft and slow import in Austin, guess Pilipinas is just not coached well. And Chot Reyes can’t just blame the PBA for not lending their players, after all, other participating teams also didn’t have their best locals. Thus, this tourney was all about a coach’s strategy and getting the right import to fit into it — which they obviously failed on both accounts.

Problem is — Pride. Time and again, that is even before this FIBA debacle, Philippine basketball coaches and supporters would rather live in fantasy by praising their little success than working or dealing with what they really need to do for greater glory. Put down that pride and hire a consultant, not those regular faces you see or hear (not even these regular commentators, they are biased and lacks real insight) but someone with a 3D-like knowledge of the game — an outsider and not even necessarily a foreigner. Come to think of it, their previous successes just actually had a lot to do with luck which ran out when they got blasted by South Korea, 118-86 in the quarterfinals of the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Lebanon last August.

Ey, they basically had their best team! And so ‘pride’ tells them that they were just upset instead of admitting or understanding how they really got beat — for which they are only like pointing to missing an import that caused their loss. Hmm. With that, expect them to fall short again in the future.

Now back to the Champions Cup. In their two successive spankings and as usual, we saw Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas go to Austin (v Petrochimi 9/20, v China 5/12) and Ravena (v Petrochimi 7/14, v China 6/14) with Cruz also having more than 10 attempts (4/14) against China. Okay, while Austin and Ravena have been pretty consistent as we could see in their FG percentages — for others who have shot at least 10 times were just up and down, like Cruz. One day he’s cold, next day he’s hot, and then he’s cold again. Clearly, that’s not deserving of the confidence given by a coach.

But like what we have previously said a couple of articles ago, Jett Manuel specifically should have been given the green light to shoot. He’s got the offensive weapons, he just doesn’t have enough touches.

Anyway, we do expect the Filipinos to win this battle for 5th place.

2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup: Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas now 2-1

After 3 straight games, it’s a rest day today for the Philippine men’s basketball team that’s competing in Chenzhou, China — where Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas first won against BC Astana (73-65) then lost to Sareyyet Ramallah (82-89) before winning yesterday against Thailand’s Mono Vampire BC (115-102).

Next game would be tomorrow, September 26 at 9:45PM, against Petrochimi of Iran. And since we have already talked about the Filipinos against the Kazakhs, let’s now get on to their recent two games.

82-89 AGAINST SAREYYET RAMALLAH

While it was good to see two other guys, Jeron Teng (5/12) and Carl Bryan Cruz (3/11) — other than Isaiah Austin and Kiefer Ravena — firing more than 10 shots in their game, their assists were still low at only 10. More so, while most areas were as close as it could be — the Palestinians were actually the ones ahead on those stats. And Chooks-to-Go can’t just blame poor 3-point shooting (PHL 5/28, PLE 10/26) because they even had more free throws (PHL 23/30, PLE 11/16) compared to their opponent — so that cancels out the downtown percentage excuse.

In short, the Philippines lost simply because the Palestinians had control of the ball game even as the time one was leading explains it — which was 35 minutes of the way for Sareyyet as to only 3 minutes by Chooks-to-Go.

115-102 AGAINST MONO VAMPIRE BC

It’s amazing that the Philippines beat the Thais who defeated the Palestinians who were the conquerors of the Filipinos. Did you get it? What a merry-go-round! But that’s how it has been, one night you’re cold, next day you’re hot.

This stuff was in full display in Carl Bryan Cruz who was just 3-of-11 against the Palestinians but was red hot against the Thais shooting 8-of-11 from 3s. And with 4 of their players in double figures, with 3 even in the 20s, it didn’t really matter here if the Filipinos had 19 turnovers as they had their highest assist total so far with 22 while having more points in the paint 46-32.

All these only confirmed why they led for 39 minutes of the game.. and won.

2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship Qualification (AVC) Latest

Today is the last day of the qualifiers for the 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship to be held in Japan which would run from Sep 29 to Oct 20, 2018.

This qualifiers actually started last September 20 with 2 pools composed of 5 teams each with Japan taking a bye being the host of the 2018 tournament.

2018 AVC Qualifiers

At any rate, the qualifiers have already been determined since yesterday after China, South Korea and Thailand notched their third straight win, respectively — leaving today’s matches as just for formality’s sake.

And so, let’s just check out on each of the three teams’ highlights.

As for today’s schedule, here goes..

September 24 Schedules

While the China against Chinese Taipei game is an obvious overmatch, the match between Thailand and South Korea would prove to be interesting — just hope they’d play competitively even if this is already a no-bearing game.

2017 FIBA Asia Champions Cup: Could the Philippines go all the way?

In case you are not aware and as of this writing, the Philippines represented by Chooks-to-Go is playing Sareyyet Ramallah of Palestine in the FIBA Asia Qualifiers at the Chenzhou Sports Center, China. The tourney is composed of 10 teams and will run from September 22 to 30.

The Filipinos, bannered by import Isaiah Austin, have just won their opener last night against Kazakhstan’s BC Astana, 73-65. It was quite a tight game through-out where we saw just poor shooting from both sides and Austin somehow leaving his mark with 17 points, 18 rebounds and 6 blocks.

WHY KAZAKHSTAN LOST

Despite Austin’s 18 boards, the Kazakhs actually out-rebounded the Filipinos 47-33 and even had more assists 15-8 while also leading at some point in the game. Then again, with the 7-foot-1 Austin manning the middle, the Kazakhs just could not shake off that intimidation factor as they just made 10 less points in the paint while committing 15 turnovers leading to 13 fast break points for the pesky Filipinos.

All these plus the huge difference in free throws as the Philippines shot 15 of 22 compared to just 9 free throw attempts by Kazakhstan — while making only 5 of them — led to their defeat.

HOW DID THE PINOYS REALLY FARE

Yes, the Philippines won and diehards all over the country are celebrating — yet how did they really fare? Okay, this is not their best team — many were even disappointed with the Teng brothers — but then, most participants also didn’t send their A-team. Still, much is to be desired.

For one, ball distribution. The Philippines only had 8 assists for the whole game?! And only Kiefer Ravena, aside from Isaiah Austin, had more than 10 field goal attempts. Hey, from the looks of it, Jett Manuel is really their best scorer who still had 10 points despite just having 7 attempts. Now just look carefully, Manuel has better foot work while Ravena is actually slow and not that athletic — however, opponents just do not (or don’t know how to) play defense. And so, because he attempts a lot, he eventually scores.

Isaiah Austin? While he had sterling numbers last night, if you analyze them — something’s just wrong. 33 percent field goal? 5-of-15 shooting? Yes, he had nine free throw attempts to speak for his game but he just lacks power. It’s a surprise that Coach Chot Reyes even compared him to Golden State’s JaVale McGee, guess that was an overstatement. McGee is much stronger and more athletic while Austin is like a slow forward inside a center’s body, err, height. Notice how soft his blocks were — or his dunks during practice?

Jett Manuel

To be more competitive, how about more touches for Manuel and LA Revilla?