JAKARTA, Indonesia – Few weeks ago, the Philippine men’s basketball team were in a yes-no-yes position in joining the 18th Asian Games in Indonesia.
One week after the country’s decision to join the event, the team can now prepare for the quarterfinal round.
The Philippines showed its lack of preparation time was hardly a negative factor in its campaign as it displayed a fluid game on both ends of the floor to crush Kazakhstan on Thursday, 96-59, and boost its chance of advancing to the knockout round of the Men’s Basketball tournament of the quadrennial meet at the Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall.
With the lineup composed mainly of the current and former Rain or Shine players, the team showed a full great display of coach Yeng Guiao’s system to pull away early against Kazakhstan and never look back to get the moral-boosting 37-point win.
“The guys were mentally tough and mentally prepared. We had a very short time to prepare for this tournament, but everything just fell into place,” said Guiao.
“The coaching staff did a great job with the scouting report. We were able to disrupt (Kazakhstan’s) offense, and we were able to challenge their shots,” he added.
The Philippines has a four-day break to rest before facing powerhouse China on August 21 in a game that could possibly decide the fate of both teams in the quarterfinals, barring a Kazakhstan’s upset of the Chinese on 23rd.
First-time national team player Stanley Pringle lived up to hype as he led the Philippines to a dream start – a 16-5 run in the first quarter that set up nothing but the rout.
Pringle finished with a game-high 18 points, four rebounds, and two assists, while playing in the second half with NBA player and teammate Jordan Clarkson – who arrived at the venue during the third quarter – watching from the sideline.
Christian Standhardinger also contributed big with 15 points on 7 of 11 shooting and four rebounds, while James Yap added 12 points and six boards.
Gabe Norwood, a national team mainstay, anchored the Philippines’ defense with four steals, to go along with seven points, three rebounds, and four assists.
The Philippines was so unforgiving in the defensive end early that it limited Kazakhstan to just a single field goal in the opening quarter, and just 4 of 23 from the field after the first two quarters to take a 41-20 lead at the break.
The so-called ‘Gilastopainters’ also did a great job exploiting Kazakhstan’s passing lane that led to 16 steals and 22 turnovers the Filipinos used to get as many transition baskets as it could.
Anton Bykov led the Kazakhstan with 13 points and five rebounds, but no other Kazakh was able to crack the double-digit mark.
Dmitriy Gavrilov, Rustam Yergali and Alexandr Zhigulin chipped in nine, eight, and seven points, respectively, but shot a combined of just 6 of 24 from the field and had eight turnovers.
PHILIPPINES 96 – Pringle 18, Standhardinger, 15, Yap 12, Lee 10, Tiu 9, Norwood 7, Almazan 6, Belga 5, Erram 5, Taulava 5, Ahanmisi 4
KAZAKHSTAN 59 – Bykov 13, Gavrilov 9, Yergali 8, Zhigulin 7, Bazhin 6, Chsherbak 6, Kuanov 6, Maidekin 2, Marchuk 2, Murzagaliyev 0, Satkeyev 0, Yagodkin 0
Quarter scores: 16-9, 41-20, 61-43, 96-59.