After Jones Cup, What Do We Make Of Gilas?

Last year, Mighty Sports represented the Philippines in the 2016 Jones Cup… by bringing in seven American imports. I’m not kidding. From former NBA lottery pick Al Thornton, Hamady N’diaye, to the eventual tournament MVP Dewarick Spencer, Mighty Sports dominated the tournament to win the Philippines’ 5th Jones Cup trophy, our 2nd title in five years.

We haven’t relied that much from the Americans since the Spaniards invaded us!

Heading into the 2017 Jones Cup tournament, coach Chot Reyes called on Kobe Paras, Kiefer Ravena, Ray Parks Jr., and the rest of the Gilas Cadets to defend the title;  a task that has only been accomplished by 3 countries (Iran, Jordan, USA). The national team carried tremendous expectations and didn’t want to disappoint a country that treats basketball the same way it treats Koreanovela — as a religion. With the lone addition of Talk-N-Text’s Mike Myers to strengthen the squad, the Jones Cup was a great opportunity to showcase the revamped Gilas program without having to rely on anyone other than ourselves.

But any notion of a repeat was quickly put to rest when the Philippines had to start their title defense against Canada 150, a squad composed of players from the NBLC. Gilas couldn’t also keep up with Lithuania and South Korea, sliding down to a 6-3 record (good for fourth place) and end the tournament on a sour note.

Even though it wasn’t the result we wanted for Gilas, we were still able to see the bright spots from the national team as they continue their preparation for a much bigger tournament next month — the FIBA Asia Cup.

At the end of the Jones Cup tournament, Gilas Pilipinas were able to muster 87.2 points per game, the 3rd best in the tournament. This is despite shooting 43% from the field, which is waaaaay behind the 3 countries that we lost to. The threes just didn’t fall for Gilas, who ranked 3rd lowest along with Iran, India, and Iraq. The struggles from the perimeter was none more so evident than their game against South Korea where they just couldn’t buy a basket.

Still, 87.2 points per game shows how potent Gilas’ offense actually is. For comparison’s sake, Mighty Sports averaged 89.4 ppg last year, which tops the 2016 Jones Cup. The scoring averages of Team Canada 150 (102.9) and Lithuania (93.3) for this tournament were actually the two highest in the past seven Jones Cup tournaments.

They were basically playing NBA 2K on casual mode.

The shot distribution shows that Gilas preferred making plays inside the arc, which is ironic when the team’s philosophy has always been drive and kick. The Philippines settled on two-point field goals 64% of the time, just a notch above the tournament average of 62%. They were also in the middle when it comes to 3PT attempts but failed to convert as they tie China-W with 27%.

On other team stats, Team Canada 150 dominated the boards (45.80 rpg) while South Korea and Lithuania schooled everyone on ball movement (21 apg). But Gilas’ pesky defense forced a tournament-high 15.80 turnovers for their opponents. Gilas also had the 3rd-highest point differential of the tournament with +55, thirteen more than South Korea.

Canada again dominates the advanced stat criteria by having 81 possessions while giving out only 77.5 for their opponents. Gilas Pilipinas is in the middle in terms of pace factor, averaging close to 78 possessions. This shows that Chot would need to reiterate the need to speed up the pace and create more possessions for Gilas to succeed.

As the team focuses on the FIBA Asia Cup, Coach Reyes released his 12-man lineup that will hopefully bring home the bacon from Beirut.

The decision to have Jio Jalalon over Kiefer Ravena has raised some eyebrows, considering that Ravena was Gilas’ best playmaker during the tournament.

Kiefer is 2nd overall in the assists department (4.30), 4th team leader in points (10.30), and converts 88% from the line, all while averaging just a single turnover for the game. But Jalalon has shown glimpses of being the spark plug off the bench for Gilas, which is pivotal once veteran Jayson Castro comes off the court. Jio’s true shooting percentage (60.31%) is 2nd behind Fil-Can Matthew Wright (61.64%) while also leading the team in steals (1.7), giving Gilas a ball stopper ala Boston’s Marcus Smart.

Speaking of Matthew Wright, the Phoenix Fuel Masters guard had an outstanding tournament and was arguably the team’s best player. Even better than Michael Myers.

Wright led the team in scoring (14), 3PT made per game (2.80), and had the highest usage rate (17.15%) for all nine games— meaning 17% of time, Wright was the focal point of the offense for Gilas. Here’s a fun fact: he made more threes than Ravena, Jalalon, Cruz, Ray Parks Jr., Ferrer, Tolomia, and Belo. 


Christian Standhardinger was another standout player for Gilas. Not much was known about the Filipino-German other than that he has a very underrated last name. 

Enzo Flojo from FOX Sports Asia wrote that Standhardiner was “actually been in the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas’s radar since way back in the early days of the Gilas program. He was one of Germany’s top youth players in the mid-2000s, even earning a spot in Germany’s U18 team in 2007, and he has had extensive experience playing high level basketball after seeing action for both the University of Nebraska and University of Hawaii in the US NCAA.

The 6’8″ naturalized player provided inside presence for a team that sorely lacks size in the middle, and was one of only six players in the tournament to be in the top-10 for 2PT FG made (4.8) and rebounds (7.4) per game, though struggled on the defensive end (0.1 bpg, 0.7 spg).

He will be eligible in the upcoming PBA draft, where Yeng Guiao will have to pull out the last of his hair strands in deciding whether Standhardinger or Ravena could be his first pick for NLEX, the team that will most likely get the selection. 

Standhardinger is that good.

Along with Matthew Wright, Jio Jalalon, and Christian Standhardinger (still an awesome last name), Roger Pogoy and Carl Bryan Cruz will be joining the rest of the Gilas to represent the nation in the hopes of winning the FIBA Asia Cup. Without Andray Blatche at the helm, Gilas will have another tall task ahead of them. Though the great thing about this – we already know what we can do without having to rely on anyone.

Other than ourselves.

– David Gamboa

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