In the previous FIBA Oceania Post-Mortem, we featured Asian second runner-up South Korea and how its outside shooting and passing will prove to be a concern for New Zealand and Australia. In this installment, we'll discuss another Asian team with a contrasting lineup and playing philosophy.
Japeth Aguilar, the explosive 6'10" forward for the Philippines
The Asian runners-up had three things going for them in the recent FIBA Asia tournament: The hometown crowd, the presence of a naturalized center, and its outside shooting. With the exception of the final game against Iran where everyone seemed to have run out of bullets, the Southeast Asians were consistent from the perimeter the entire tournament. However, with center Marcus Douthit sitting out the match, it fell upon the streaky hands of All-Asia point guard Jayson Castro William to pump up the partisan crowd with his fastbreaks. Unfortunately, the late-game rally fell short, and the hosts were left to savor their silver medals as if they were gold.
In 2014, the homecourt advantage would be negated, unless the 30,000-odd Filipino migrants in Spain suddenly show up with tickets. The national federation is also rumoured to be looking for a replacement for Douthit, whose absence in the last two games proved to be costly. If the Philippines wants to be a serious contender at the world level, they need to either get another naturalized player now, or to hope that both back-up bigs June Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar step up their game another notch. Aguilar has proven to be a freak of a power forward capable of energising his team with well-timed blocks and dunks, while Fajardo was saddled by foul trouble the whole tournament.
Match-up with Australia: The Boomers will find the game relatively easy compared to the rest of the 32-game field. Not only is the Philippines' frontline suspect; their outside shooting is also inconsistent compared to the Koreas or Chinas of Asia. However, if the Philippines catches Australia sleeping on defense, their variation of the dribble-drive offense anchored on Jayson William will give the boys from Down Under fits.
Match-up with New Zealand: Little-known fact: The Philippines and New Zealand faced off in an exhibition game in July, barely a month after the Tall Blacks formed their own national pool. The game was close all throughout and was decided by only four points in favor or New Zealand. However, the Kiwis didn't have the services of their marquee players in Steven Adams and Kirk Penney in that game. If the two teams happen to be drawn together, expect a slam-bang affair that could go either way.
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