MANILA, Philippines – After Batang Gilas whipped Indonesia in a 96-73 rout, coach Mike Oliver proceeded to the post-game press conference for an interview.
It would be expected that a veteran coach would be all smiles as he entered the media room following a 23-point victory.
But the Batang Gilas coach appeared alongside the game's best player Mclaude Guadaña with a blank face, an expression usually associated with the statement, "We lost."
Both coach Oliver and Cuadaña settled down. The first question was thrown, and Batang Gilas coach expressed his dismay.
"Medyo super relaxed tayo eh. Yung mga guys, medyo relaxed tayo, feeling natin kayang-kaya natin yung kalaban dahil nung nakita, medyo maliit," said coach Oliver. "Nawala yung intensity at yung aggressiveness noong lumamang na tayo ng malaki."
(We were relaxed. The guys, we were kind of relaxed, we felt like we could really take out the opponent because they were smaller. The intensity and aggressiveness disappeared when we established a big lead.)
Batang Gilas pushed their advantage at 36 points, 71-35, in the third quarter but witnessed it trim down little by little until the Indonesians cut the lead to 20 points with 9:21 left in the game.
“Chinallenge kasi nating yung trapping defense ng Indonesia. Instead of mag-relay passing tayo, ginawa natin mag-direct pass tayo sa ilalim right away, so wala na tayong short passes,” shared coach Oliver who has been mentoring Batang Gilas since 2015.
(We’re challenging Indonesia’s trapping defense. Instead of relay passing, we did direct passing so we didn’t have short passes.)
This resulted to Team Philippines’ 26 turnovers committed in the entire game in which they allowed Indonesia to commit 12 steals.
In Batang Gilas’ next game against Thailand on Wednesday, May 17, coach Oliver explained that the team will continue improving their offense.
"Iwo-work out natin yung press break kasi ang Thailand pume-press din, pressing team din sila (Thailand)” said coach Oliver. "Kaunting adjustment on our offense dahil medyo naging free-wheeling type ang offense namin kanina, hindi kami masyadong nakapag-run ng plays."
(We will work with our press breaks because Thailand is also a pressing team. A little adjustment also on our offense since the team is building a free-wheeling type of offense earlier. That’s why we weren’t able to run plays.)
Since this batch of Batang Gilas is labeled as one of the most gifted teams in terms of height, adjustments need to be done in order to outrun the opponents.
“Talagang mismatch ‘yung speed natin sa kanila dahil meron tayong medyo matataas na players,” said coach Oliver. “Yung nga ine-explore namin ng coaching staff, na kung hindi tayo makabasay sa mga small forwards and centers nila, baka mag all-small din tayo, if ever.”
(There is really a mismatch in speed because we have tall players. What the coaching staff is exploring right now is that if we can’t play with their small forwards and centers, then we might resort to an all-small lineup if ever.)
Compared to Batang Gilas’ first game wherein they massacred Singapore by 66 points, a win is still a win but coach Oliver doesn’t want to be complacent.
“We have a lot of work to do.”