MANILA, Philippines – There's nothing quite like the homecourt advantage Filipinos provide for any of their national teams.
Gilas Pilipinas, the Philippine men's basketball team, has enjoyed this luxury many times over the years, and Vietnam felt the might of that edge on Wednesday, May 17.
The Vietnamese were outclassed, like the rest of the Philippines' foes, as early as the first half. And that led to the Filipino crowd creating their own form of entertainment.
During several instances in the second half, the crowd goaded the Vietnamese into forcing shots by prematurely counting down the shot clock – to the amusement of Jayson Castro and Vietnam's American coach Donte Lavar Hill, who were both captured on camera laughing.
"I thought it was clever. It showed the kind of commitment the fans have, they make sure they give their effort, they believe in their team, they support their team, and so it was very clever," Hill said after the 107-52 defeat.
Hill's players, young and not used to hostile environments, fell for the trick more than once.
The shot clock would read 15 or 20 seconds but the Filipinos would collectively count down, "5...4...3...2..." And Vietnam would get rattled.
"All of it because my players are not used to that," Hill explained.
"One of the biggest things is our players are not used to this kind of competition and I told them before the game, this is gonna be the best competition probably you'll be playing from a team standpoint so take advantage of it, enjoy the moment and live through it. Be aggressive and give your best effort."
Vietnam finished the tournament in second to last place with a 1-5 record. But they will come away with valuable game experience against Gilas in the Philippines.
"I told them you got to listen to the right voices, you got to listen to your voice, my voice, to the team's voice," Hill said.
"This is one of the things about playing on the road. As a basketball player, you have to be close your mind and focus on that moment and that's the key to be successful." – Rappler.com