This is an important game as the mid of the 4th saw Chinese Taipei coming back on a 9-0 run after being behind by as much as 15(?), therefore testing the character of Smart Gilas under pressure.
When a team is on a roll, it seems every shot is going in, and I don’t care what team you are, every team relaxes when they build a lead.
The true test of a team’s character is what it does when its opponent is coming back fighting tooth and nail, eating up a lead, with still a lot of time to do it. IMHO that’s probably the best gauge of a team.
This is what happened which is why I was pretty much glued to the set at the 4th. Chinese Taipei’s Wu #5 was finding his groove, scoring on an easy dunk and a pretty good spin move down the lane to score. At around 71-65 we had a lead but a tentative one, given they were on a tear.
The highlights of this game to me are as follows:
– Coach Chot initally countered the run with trying to get Dillinger to create the way Sol Mercado would. But either it’s not in Dillinger’s game or he just didn’t want to, because he seemed tentative. It’s not that he couldn’t do it. One drive to the basket saw him open after a nice pumpfake, but he stopped mid stroke to think of passing it instead, resulting in the ball ending up in Norwood’s hands for a desperation 3 that bricked off the rim. Fortunately the whole play wasted a lot of seconds so it didn’t matter in the grander scheme of things, but that was a big play needed from a big player like JD and it was really his time to shine. I wish that particular play was more positive for him.
– At this point our team’s ability to change strategy was all Coach Chot. He shifted people around, getting Norwood and LA Tenorio in, then out, then in, and with the time ticking away, even more substitutions to prepare for wasting the time away and getting better free throw shooters in when Chinese Taipei would start fouling, which was going to happen sooner or later.
– This is a good test of how we finish a game. Norwood plays D like a true stopper and to me he remains our MVP after Douthit if we are to choose one. He is head and shoulders a better athlete than most players his size and when we needed stops he provides.
Overall however there is still a lot of room for improvement. Our FTs (53%) should at least hit the low 70s to be ‘good’, especially getting deeper in the tournament. 29% from threes is lower than average for this team albeit an improvement over our last outings, courtesy mostly of Gary David who got his groove back.
Now that we’re in the Semis we need to step it up several notches, and other than improving freethrows, I think Chan, Fonacier and David have to really shoot the lights out. That’s what they’re there for, and that’s what they should do. Everyone else I think is playing to expectation. I dunno if you can ask anymore from Ranidel or even Thoss. We know how those guys play and they’re doing what is expected of them.
But the shooters? They need to sink the three. Doing so will just relieve the pressure on the inside and free Douthit, who is already doing an exemplary job, to do even more damage if he had single coverage. Only when we start shooting better can I say our team is on its way.