SEABA: Things to watch for in the Gilas Pilipinas-Indonesia title game

Dominic Menor, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 18 2017 05:03 AM

The schedule makers probably had this in mind all along — the final day of the Southeast Asian Basketball Association Championship pitting the two teams that were expected to battle for the crown, Gilas Pilipinas and Indonesia.

This is for all the marbles, and all signs point to the hosts being showered with championship confetti.

What the outcome will be isn't in doubt, though; how the win will be achieved is another story.

The Philippines trampled on its first 5 assignments, the superior individual talents of its players overshadowing all other positive factors as the team cruised to an undefeated record. Against a similarly unbeaten Indonesia, merely showing up won't be enough though.

Here are 4 things to watch for as Indonesia tries to disrupt Gilas' path toward an inevitable coronation. 

Jamarr Johnson

Indonesia's purported difference maker has said he wants to develop an outside game to be more of a threat, but that part of his arsenal didn't show in the Myanmar game.  

Granted he didn't have to because it was against a lowly team, but Wednesday's game demonstrated Johnson's preference for close-range shots. All but one of his 11 attempts were within 2 feet of the basket, and the lone triple he attempted was a miss.

It'll be interesting to see how he fares against Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche if Johnson insists on attacking the rim. If Johnson can't hit from outside, his passing game needs to be on point if his drives are stalled.

Should none of those options materialize, it's going to be a long night for Indonesia's naturalized player.

Outside shooting

Indonesia loves it from long distance. Of the 70 shots it attempts from the field, nearly half of those are from behind the arc (34). And the Indonesians are hitting at a respectable clip of 36.5%, tops in the tournament.

While it has allowed more lowly opponents to let it fly from the outside, Gilas, when it locks down on defense, can shut down the best of them. That was evident on Tuesday, when the hosts limited Thailand to 3 of 20 shooting from 3-land.

The Indonesians have more snipers at their disposal (Sandy Kurniawan and Andakara Dhyaksa come to mind), shooters who benefit from Wuysang's playmaking and ball movement. But if Gilas is quick on close-outs and the defensive rotations are crisp, the visitors' gunners will be neutralized.

Mario Wuysang

He has been the face of Indonesian basketball for more than 10 years now and, at 38 years old, he has shown he's capable of defying Father Time. He exploded for 20 points and made 6 of 7 3-pointers against Singapore, nailed the game-winner against Thailand, and picked up 10 assists and 4 steals without a turnover against Vietnam.

But Indonesia's heart and soul will face an altogether different beast in Gilas. He'll have to defend the likes of Jayson Castro and on offense deal with an Energizer bunny such as Jio Jalalon. 

Wuysang's stamina will be tested and if Gilas can tire out the aging playmaker (expect the ball pressure to be insane), then everything else will follow. Cutting of the head of the snake will be a priority. 

Offense

The defense and effort will always be there, but it's when Gilas deliberately executes and takes fewer gambles on the other end of the floor that the Filipinos are able to break the game wide open.

The Thailand game was decided by Gilas' critical run in the 2nd quarter, then against Vietnam it was a 36-11 shot in the gut in the 3rd that put the game away. In those two instances, the Filipinos played smart, kept things simple and took care of the ball.

Making the Indonesians work really hard on defense will not only wear them down but, if the Philippines can knock down shot after shot as a result of proper execution, it can also break the their spirits.

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