TAIPEI – After a light assignment Sunday and a break yesterday, Smart Gilas Pilipinas starts its tough climb in the 34th William Jones Cup International Basketball Tournament, taking on South Korean champion club team Anyang KGC today at the TPEC Gymnasium here.
Anyang KGC is a club team but could well present Smart Gilas a tough challenge with its formidable roster featuring three national players Oh Se-Keun, Kim Tae-Sul and Yang Hee-Jong and imports Garrett Stutz and Juan Pattillo.
This team ruled the recent Korean Basketball League tourney with Oh, a longtime mainstay of the Korean national team, winning the MVP honors.
The 6-foot-7 forward has yet to play in the tourney but is expected to finally make his debut against the Filipinos in their 3 p.m. face-off.
Stutz, at 6-foot-11, has the size, length and talent to match up with Marcus Douthit, and his 6-foot-6 back-up Pattillo could pose problems with his versatility.
Smart Gilas, Anyang KGC and three-time defending champion Iran notched their second straight wins Sunday.
The Nationals primed up against the Koreans by thumping Chinese Taipei B, 99-68, Sunday. They took a hard one-hour practice yesterday morning.
"Even as we won by a big margin Sunday, we don't have illusions about the coming games. It's a killer stretch where we play six straight tough matches, starting with the Korea game (today)," said national coach Chot Reyes.
"That's the way Jones Cup is. It’s a very good competition and it's just how you cope with it. And that’s why we’re here – to learn and get tested," Reyes added.
Reyes looks forward to their Korean match wherein his troops face a different challenge from the one they gone through against Jordan Saturday.
"There are two styles of games in Asia. One is the game played by teams like Iran, Lebanon and Jordan, and the other played by teams like Korea and Japan. In Korea, we'll encounter a team playing the traditional Asian game," said Reyes.
"They usually start with a zone (defense) then shift to press. And they press very hard. But we'll not deviate from our game. We'll play our game," added Reyes, now an advocate of the "dribble-drive offense" used by coach John Calipari at UMass.
Reyes is convinced "dribble-drive" is perfect for the Philippine national team. It's the same game run by Talk n Text in the PBA.
The two players who’ll sit out today’s game will be game-day decision by the coaching staff.
"I'll play Matt Ganuela. I have to see his game. The others will be game-day decision," said Reyes who rested Garvo Lanete and JayR Reyes versus Jordan then Ganuela and Rico Villanueva against Chinese Taipei B.
Lanete, a holdover from the Phl team that swept its way to championship in the last SEABA, debuted in a Gilas uniform with a flourish versus the Taiwanese, firing away a game-high 21 points.
Douthit, LA Tenorio, Sonny Thoss and Larry Fonacier also put in double-digit outputs as they overpowered the young and raw Taiwan five.
"I was hoping that Taipei pressed us to help us prepare for South Korea. But they didn't, probably because they know we're quick," said Reyes.
They will surely face that challenge versus the Koreans.