MANILA, Philippines—A common theme in the Philippines' losses to Kazakhstan and Iran in the fifth qualifying window for the 2019 FIBA World Cup was Gilas Pilipinas' inability to defend without fouling.
The Philippines gave up 34 free throws to Kazakhstan and 33 to Iran, and wound up losing both contests by slim margins. They bowed to Kazakhstan 92-88 and to Iran 78-70. Afterward, head coach Yeng Guiao lamented the number of free throws that the team gave up.
Against Kazakhstan, he said: "The aggressiveness of the Kazakhstan team was apparent, in attacking the basket and us being drawn to those fouls. Masyadong maraming free throws ang ginive up natin at 34, and it was less than half of what we got. We only got 15 free throws."
Three nights later, he was once again harping on the free throws attempted by their opponent, but this time, Guiao acknowledged that the national team was unable to adjust to the officiating in the FIBA game.
"We gave up too many free throws again, 33. That's the problem, I guess, we're not really accustomed to the officiating. We don't know how certain calls are made in the international game," he said. "But that's something we should be responsible for. We should be able to adapt to that."
Gilas Pilipinas big man Christian Standhardinger has a theory as to why it is so difficult for the Filipinos to adjust to the FIBA officiating.
"The PBA is one of the most physical leagues I've ever played in," said Standhardinger, who played in the United States, in Germany, and in the ASEAN Basketball League before joining the San Miguel Beer franchise earlier this year.
"Internationally, you can do a lot less," he explained. "So even in our tune-up games, it was very physical, and the line of calling was very easy to let it play through."
"But in the international game, like in the FIBA window, which I remember from Germany and internationally when I played, it's not like this," he added. "And we need to do a better job to adjust to this."
While making clear that he was not criticizing Filipino referees, the San Miguel center also pointed out that local officiating crews simply call games "very physical," which are different from how games are officiated internationally.
"The other refs from the other nations . . . certain calls are much, much quicker to be made, especially when you full pressure them on the court," he said.
Standhardinger noted that some members of Gilas Pilipinas are already accustomed to FIBA officiating. Jayson Castro, for instance, has "played so many times internationally," and so he knows how to adapt his game. He also noted that Marcio Lassiter's game "is kind of made for the international play, so he has an easy time."
The adjustment is not so smooth for his other teammates, unfortunately.
"But some other guys, it's very tough to adjust so quickly to those games, and I mean, you play two games, and you have a break, and then you play the other way of playing basketball the whole time, and then you go again," said Standhardinger.
As for a solution to this issue, Standhardinger is not sure. "Maybe to fly some FIBA refs or something, who are not Filipinos?" he said. "(But) nothing against the Filipino refs."
He also suggested "a lot of watching film."
"Learning what the refs call internationally, and what they don't call internationally," he said.
Their officiating woes aside, Standhardinger expressed his disappointment about the result of their two-game home stand.
"I just want to say. We barely talked, coach (Yeng Guiao) and me, but I have much, much respect for him. I think he has a great system, he's a great coach," Standhardinger said.
"It was really an honor to play for him, I'm sorry that we let him down, and I let him down," he added.
"But I have much much respect for his system, his basketball IQ, and overall, his leadership."
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