Batang Gilas 92 – UAE 49
There wasn’t much expectations for Batang Gilas coming into this game versus UAE. As it was, UAE wasn’t ranked too high in the FIBA World Rankings, and they were just fresh off a 93 point beatdown given to them by China. By all accounts Batang Gilas was expected to win. Expectations were low, so eyes weren’t exactly set for the second game of the Philippines.
Batang Gilas started out the game strong, coming out with a 10-0 blast to set the tone of the game. But for some reason, the general mood around the air wasn’t too pleasing. A big reason for that was with how Batang Gilas was playing versus UAE.
Batang Gilas generally looked disinterested as it played the Emiratis. They committed a number of sloppy turnovers, and their activity on the defensive end was lacking. It led to multiple open looks from UAE, whether it be off cuts or simple kick out passes to the three-point line. Batang Gilas was surely going to win, but it wasn’t one the team could exactly be proud of.
By the end of the third quarter, Batang Gilas found itself up by “just” 25 points. They were going to win, but it wasn’t one that would replicate China’s win over UAE and give Filipinos confidence that they could beat the monster Chinese team that was awaiting them.
Let’s take a step back and make sense of everything that was happening. Why was there a desire for more from a Batang Gilas team that was clearly going to win anyway? What was the current state of the team as the game was going on?
First off: Batang Gilas wasn’t taking this game too seriously. That’s not to say they were horsing around. Instead, they were trying to establish different facets of their game as preparation versus China. By trying different line-ups, whether it be small or big, Batang Gilas got a better grasp of their identity. What works for them? What can be better? It isn’t surprising then that only Miguel Oczon wound up playing 20 minutes the entire game to test out his shooting.
By trying out different line-ups and using combinations the team wasn’t used to, the chemistry of the team was starting to grow. It’s an issue Coach Josh Reyes himself acknowledged prior to the start of the tournament. The team isn’t as well-meshed as you’d hope, especially when you consider they only got to practice together for one month. You saw that with how the team missed out on defensive rotations off a number of three-pointers. Their movement in the post wasn’t as fluid as you’d hope for it to be. It was frustrating, but when you contextualize everything, it becomes a little bit better.
Luckily, during the fourth quarter, Batang Gilas showed some signs of elite play. They limited UAE to just five points, while their offense efficiently chugged along. It wasn’t the beatdown some fans expected, but there was growth. At the end of the day, the goal isn’t to match some lofty number the Chinese put up. It’s to grow and become better, for more important games in the future.
The lessons continue to pour for Batang Gilas, as they’re set to face China next in the FIBA Asia U18 tournament. As established before: this team has a ton of potential to be an all-time youth team. That’s something even stats, as advanced as they may be right now, can’t even quantify. We just have to give the team the opportunity to grow, and to wait and see whether or not they reach their peak.
Photos from FIBA.com