A Cinderella Story: Together In The Quarter Finals

Philippines in the huddle by FIBA gallery

Coach Rajko Toroman once said that if we reach the quarter finals, anything can happen.

Now we’re in and we are on the right track to get to our goal. But first we have to take on Chinese-Taipei and if we win against them, we’ll have to face the winner of the Iran-Jordan game.

The key to our success is our defense. You can see in our last games that our defense brought as back in those games. We were down in the first half of those games, and right after halftime we got to blazing start. We outscored Jordan, Japan and Syria in the third quarter at least 10points. Maybe the motivational words of coach Ryan Gregorio and the screaming and shouting of coach Chot and especially coach Rajko really helped us to get going in the 2nd half in those last three games. Our physicality on defense combined with our agile and quick ability to keep up with other players from other countries is helping us to contain there outside shooting and passing game. Another aspect in our defense that really caught my eye is our defensive rotation. Preparation for the games is really helping our defense, and that’s why we kept the other players in front of us in defense. Although our defense has been very good in the second half in our last three games, we need to be consistent in defense all throughout in our next game against Chinese-Taipei because Taipei has a lot of good shooters like Japan and our defensive rotation is the key to cancel out those shooters.

Our ball movement is another key to our success in the 2nd round of the tournament. The quick passing of the ball tends to confuse the defense and make the defense out of balance until we find an open man inside the paint or for an open 3-point shot. Yes, it worked many times for us and it is proven to be one of the main parts of our arsenal.

Furthermore, we don’t need slow start and comebacks. We need strong starts and strong finishes, if we would keep up our slow start against Taipei and especially against Iran we are in a lot of trouble. Taipei is more like Japan who have good shooters that would spread the floor. If we’ll have a slow start against them and slow start means more possession for Taipei to shoot and catch fire. That’s too risky for us, we shouldn’t rely on luck to carry us in the second half. We need to get the ball down low in the first early minutes to establish our inside game with Marcus and Kelly and then eventually that would open up our shooters. We need to pressure the ball right from the get go and get into the break and run the ball. We need to keep the defense guessing and as I said earlier, ball movement will be a key.

The biggest and most important factor for our success is Marcus Douthit. No doubt.

A consistent Marcus Douthit would help us in a big way and according to our last three games, we’re looking at a confident and motivated Douthit. He’s currently leading the tournament in scoring with 18ppg and 11rpg. He is ahead of Wright in terms of points and Haddadi and Yi Jian Lian in terms of rebounds, and those names are big in Asian basketball. Douthit is looking to be the MVP of the tournament and keeping his numbers up will give him the award that he deserves. He’s giving the Philippines an NBA-caliber performance in this tournament and we should be proud that we have him in our team.

Our team has been together for 3 years now, and they worked their butts off for this moment and they won’t just let this slip away. Smart Gilas is not just a basketball team, it’s a family. They have breakfast, lunch and dinner together. They do everything together because of coach Rajko Toroman who values family and respect very much and he instilled those values in to our team for them to be one. We all know Marcus and coach Rajko are not Filipinos but they both accepted our country and our country is doing the same by accepting them in the heart of our nation. They don’t have Filipino blood but they do have a heart of a Filipino.

It’s do or die for the Philippines. As we all know, us Filipinos have that heroic attitude in us. If we beat Chinese-Taipei, Smart Gilas will be the first Filipino team to get back to the Semis since the Centennial team. Smart Gilas knows what’s at stake here, we all know this will not be easy but this is not impossible. We got a slim chance with China and Iran in front of us, but still, we have a chance and we will take whatever chance there is for us. Chances are all we have in this world, let’s take that opportunity and take it a rise to the occasion.

Filipinos always do everything to achieve pride, honor and glory. Throughout our history we did marvelous things and rewrote history as one nation.

And as our Cinderella story continues..

We have the chance to do the impossible and we will all do it together.

United we stand, divided we fall. Mabuhay Pilipinas!

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