Manila Qualifying Tournament

Gilas point guards working hard, learning ahead of Manila Qualifying Tournament

Gilas point guards working hard, learning ahead of Manila Qualifying Tournament. When it comes to point guards, the Philippine national men’s basketball team has been fortunate to have been blessed with plenty of talent.

From Jayson Castro and Terrence Romeo to Paul Lee and LA Tenorio, there are more than enough options at that position.

Castro, of course, has twice been named to the FIBA Asia Championship’s All-Star Five, earning him the title of Best Point Guard in Asia. Romeo is a rising star in the sport, earning admiration from the crowds not only in Manila but around the continent as well.

Lee and Tenorio are also experienced court generals that have played on the largest stages like the FIBA Basketball World Cup while also having big moments in smaller tournaments like the FIBA Asia Cup and the William Jones Cup.

But Gilas Pilipinas head coach Tab Baldwin is making sure that the point guards, talented as they are, are as prepared as possible, focusing specifically on a pick-and-roll variation that could become a staple of the Philippines’ offense in July.

“Napaka-importante noon kasi sa international game. Alam naman natin na more on ball-screens and motion offense and kung paano mo basahin yung ibinibigay na depensa,” Castro told in an exclusive interview.

“This practice pa lang, sinasabi na agad ni Coach Tab na dito kami mabubuhay sa play na ito and dito rin kami matatalo kung hindi namin mae-execute ng maayos.”

On Monday, the guards spent the time doing a detailed re-learning of the single high pick-and-roll, particularly with regards to using the screener more than once. That’s something that one of their rivals – France’s Tony Parker, who will be coming to Manila in July – is already an expert at and the Filipinos will be looking to keep up.

Castro, a member of the national team since 2012, is seeing more variations in the Gilas playbook and he’s hoping that the tweaks will lead to more success.

“Yung dribble-drive offense namin, we converted it to having staggered ball screens. Parang yung mga open shots from the perimeter and yung mga big men need to take outside shots para yung mga malalaking defenders nado-draw nila. Importante yun,” he added.

Lee, Gilas’ hero during the FIBA Asia Cup two years ago when the Philippines defeated China, is just as committed to getting the new lessons down pat even if he was a mere observer last Monday as he continued to recuperate from a knee injury.

Among Baldwin’s specific instructions to Lee was to first go right on the screen before spinning to the left for a second pick to get a clear view of the basket while also having options with a spot-up shooter in the wing and the screener rolling or popping.

“Siguro ito na yung mga nakikita niyang mangyayari sa darating na Qualifying Tournament,” added Lee. “Para sa mga guards yun at sa mga bigs, so I have to make sure kung ano yung gusto ni Coach Tab na mangyari.”

For Lee, the play comes down to being on the same page.

“Crucial dito yung communication mo sa teammates mo,” he said. “Kailangan parehas kayo ng iniisip. Kasi kung magkaiba kayo ng iniisip, papalpak agad yung play.”

Romeo, meanwhile, enjoys the opportunity to become a student of the game again.

“Para akong bumalik sa pinakasimula ng paglalaro ng basketball,” Romeo added. “Kahit saglit lang yung sinabi ni Coach Tab ang dami ko kaagad natutunan. Hindi ko alam yung itinuro niya na yun. Ngayon, mas nalinawan ako nung ipinaliwanag niya kung paano gawin.”