Former national team members Jojo Lastimosa and Jayson Castro raised the value of familiarity over talent in emerging victorious in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Lastimosa, who saw action for the all-amateur national squad in 1986 and 1987, said their familiarity with each other served as the key to their success.
“I’ll take a less talented team that has cohesion than a talented team that is disjointed,” Lastimosa, who was part of the team that won the bronze medal in the Seoul Asian Games in 1986, wrote in a Viber message to DAILY TRIBUNE.
The lack of familiarity due to a very short training and preparation had doomed Gilas Pilipinas in the ongoing World Cup.
In fact, naturalized player Jordan Clarkson only joined the team on 8 August while rising star Kai Sotto came on board on 15 August, barely a week before the World Cup kicked off.
Clarkson and Sotto were also not part of the pool that trained in Laguna, Estonia and Lithuania and played friendly matches in China.
With that, Gilas Pilipinas struggled, suffering losses to the Dominican Republic, Angola and Italy that booted it out of medal contention.
Lastimosa said the outcome could have been different had Gilas spent a lot of time training as a complete unit.
“We could only wish we had more time together,” Lastimosa added. “It would have certainly helped us, but there are factors we can’t control on how to do that. You can see the better teams looked really seamless in their passing,
rotation, etc. That comes with familiarity.”
Gilas’ talent, according to Lastimosa, was good enough to put themselves in a good position to win.
“We have shown flashes of brilliance, but only that. We can’t sustain it because when you start rotating players, who are not familiar with their teammates, the team flow slows down and there’s a lot of indecision and hesitation,” Lastimosa said.
Castro, the hero of Gilas when it played in the FIBA Asia Men’s Championship in 2013 and World Cup in 2014, said their key to victory was their longer preparation.
“It gave us more time to develop chemistry, not just on the court, but off the court,” Castro, who displayed great chemistry playing with Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel de Ocampo, Marc Pingris and naturalized player Andray Blatche during their World Cup stint, said in a telephone
“In fact, Andray would come over to us and try to get to know us one by one and that chemistry, that familiarity with your own teammates, not only builds cohesion, but also develops trust.”
“Trust, more than anything else, is more important and Andray really trusted his teammates and that allowed us to win against Senegal while also giving up a good fight against Croatia and Puerto Rico.”