Reclaim the Swagger

Marcus Douthit is such an important piece of the Smart-Gilas roster. He gives the country the inside presence they severely lack. For some insane reason, Middle Eastern countries have tapped on that skeletal upsize once hoarded by the Far East countries and his addition to the squad will equalized that gene spurt (although we have beanpoles Junmar Fajardo and Smart-Gilas player Greg Slaughter in our disposal).

Douthit is highly dependable especially on the shaded area. He also has a good perimeter shot. This is important because this means he can sink free throws.

This is good considering that he is seven-feet tall and an American.

Oh. I forgot.

A very, VERY big Filipino!

But let’s agree on this – his inside dominance is one factor but he is a mere supplement to our cause. He is there so that the Pinoys in the squad could do their thing.

Against Syria however, it was bad.

I think they need to address this issue now because the more this is resolved, the better our chances to clinch a first place in this tourney. Sure, it’s a longshot but the edge we have against China, Iran, and Korea is that our starters are as good as our bench. Throughout the 2011 FIBA-Asia Championship, we saw a lot of heroes. Even seldom used players like Japeth Aguilar, Mark Barroca, and Mac Baracael had their share of fun.

But everyone must contribute!

And I mean everyone.

Against Syria, Douthit has scored the first twelve points of the squad and when he needed to get subbed after committing his second foul, none of the Nationals stepped up.

Looking at the six games Smart-Gilas played, it seems as if some of the players have lost their swagger to score. When I mean some, I mean the original Smart-Gilas core minus Marcio Lassiter. Chris Lutz, despite his offensive inabilities, is on the court because he can masterfully shadow an opposing team’s ace to the point of annoyance.

However, Chris Tiu has passed on a lot of open outside opportunities. Baracael is in a proverbial doghouse because of his lousy field goal percentage. JV Casio has been passing up a lot of scoring passes that he can make and not passing up on bad shots. Aguilar is not getting the minutes because probably Rajko doesn’t trust him in important situations.

I know that compared to the PBA players they are kids... but they are the original pack.

This is the team coach Rajko Toroman wanted ever since we made a conscious effort to revive our basketball glory. There is a reason why they lasted this long in the team. There is a reason why PBA teams went to dire straits just to sign them. There is a reason why they are called to fight in the unenviable task to retrieve the Philippines’ spot in the Olympics.

They need to check on their shot selections and at the same time assert their selves that this is not a team solely centered on Marcus Douthit.

What we saw at the second half of the match against Syria was a different story. Casio drained the baskets at the start of the second half to send Team Pilipinas in fighting distance. The crappy 10-second free throw violation call was enough for Douthit and Jimmy Alapag to pillage the Syrians. Then Ranidel de Ocampo joined in on the fun highlighted by a vicious stuff after a missed long bomb. And finally, Tiu buried a couple of baskets to make the lead bulletproof.

This is what needs to happen. Even if Douthit is the focal point, distracting the competition with able hands will stretch the defense.

Philippines 75... Syria 52.

Douthit is not a hard player to scout. He IS Smart-Gilas’ main man. But maybe if a couple of players raise their game to a different notch, good things could happen to the squad. It was revealed in the papers that Toroman deliberately chose not to use Alapag and Kelly Williams in the opening minutes so he can see a slew of various options not limited to the “old” people.

Here are the stats up to the Syria point:

1 – Marcus Douthit – 18.7ppg
2 – Marcio Lassiter – 11.3ppg  
3 – Chris Tiu – 8.0ppg 
4.5 – Jimmy Alapag – 7.5ppg 
4.5 – JV Casio – 7.5ppg 

1 – Marcus Douthit – 10.5rpg
2 – Asi Taulava – 6.5rpg
3.5 – Kelly Williams – 4.0rpg
3.5 – Ranidel De Ocampo – 4.0rpg
5 – Chris Tiu – 3.7rpg

1 – Jimmy Alapag – 3.5apg
2.5 – Chris Tiu – 2.8apg
2.5 – JV Casio – 2.8apg
4 – Mark Barroca – 2.5apg

If I was an opposing coach, I’d say that the Smart-Gilas squad starts off slow so they can build on a grand ending. For me this is nice and all but they need to at least get a 30 in the first half and do their normal “monster mode” at the second.

More wins ahead!

Game over!


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