MANILA, Philippines – The FIBA World Cup revealed the ugly truth of how far Gilas Pilipinas falls behind basketball superpowers.
Winless in 5 games, the Philippines will finish the global hoops showdown dead last out of the 32 participating nations after tallying the worst point differential in the entire tournament of -147 points.
Changes are expected as the Philippines, Japan, and Indonesia co-host the next edition of the World Cup in 2023, and national team coach Yeng Guiao has a few suggestions on what should be done.
"We need some consistency with our outside shooting. When our outside shooting is on, we're in the game, when it's not, we're out of the game," Guiao told reporters in China after their 75-95 loss to Iran on Sunday, September 8.
"There's really nowhere else for us to look for our scoring expect our transition game and probably our outside shots."
Simply put, shooting was never an asset of the Philippines in the World Cup.
At the end of the second round, Gilas Pilipinas ranked 29th in field goal percentage with 38.3%, 31st in three-point percentage with 25.2%, and 23rd in free throw percentage with 72%.
Missing Marcio Lassiter and Matthew Wright to injuries, the Philippines' most accurate outside shooter turned out to be Robert Bolick, but he placed a lowly 57th place with a 38.9% clip from long distance.
CJ Perez was next tied at 85th place with 33.3%, while no other player from the Philippines managed to breach the top 100.
"If I could put in my recommendations or input, we just need to build and train big men who are going to be quick, who can make the outside shot, and who can defend well," Guiao said.
Big men who can stretch the floor have been the trend not just in the NBA but also in the international stage, and they are aplenty in the World Cup.
In fact, half of the top 10 in three-point percentage were at least 6-foot-8.
France's Amath M'Baye ranked 2nd with 64.3%, followed by Japan's Nick Fazekas (56.3%), Germany's Johannes Voigtmann (55.6%), Canada's Conor Morgan (55.6%) and Tunisia's Mohamed Hadidane (54.5%).
Hadidane, particularly, posed problems against Gilas Pilipinas with his range, draining two triples in their dominant 86-67 victory.
Aside from Hadidane, the Philippines also ran into teams with big men who can act as floor spacers, among them Serbia's Nikola Jokic and Nemanja Bjelica and Italy's Danilo Gallinari and Luigi Datome.
The 7-foot Jokic and 6-foot-10 Bjelica shot a combined 4-of-4 from rainbow country in their 126-67 conquest of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Gallinari and Datome – who both stand at 6-foot-8 – sank 7 triples in a 108-62 drubbing of Gilas Pilipinas.
On the other hand, Andray Blatche was the Philippines' lone big man who was a threat from the outside, but even he struggled after knocking down just 9 of his 32 three-point attempts for 28.1%.
"We tried hard to fight it out inside but all the teams are just bigger than we are with quality big men. The difference, I guess, is the quality big men of the other teams," Guiao added in a mix of Filipino and English.
"Those are the requirements if you're playing in the international stage. I'm not talking just about Asia because we can somehow keep up in Asia, but when it comes to the international game, it's a battle of the big men." – Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.