NBA champion coach Erik Spoelstra observed the Smart Gilas Pilipinas national men’s team practice Sunday at the Treston College gym in Taguig City, and liked what he saw.
“This should be the way the Philippine team plays. In fact, this should be the National Offense,” said the Miami Heat head coach, referring to the nationals’ dribble drive motion offense. Gilas coach Chot Reyes said Spoelstra was impressed with the way the Philippine team was running its offense, and was considering doing the same with the Heat. He added that this offense fits the skills of Miami stars Lebron James and Dwayne Wade.
One of Spoelstra’s deputies with the Heat, Dan Craig, helped the nationals with some drills as well.
Spoelstra is here in the country for a tour of the Larry O’Brien NBA championship trophy, which he and the Heat won by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder in five games of a best-of-seven series in June. He is the first Asian-American to win an NBA championship as head coach. His mother, Elisa Celino, is a native of San Pablo, Laguna.
Gilas is preparing for the 34th William Jones Cup in Taipei on August 18 to 26. Its line-up consists of Talk N Text’s Jason Castro, Larry Fonacier and Ranidel De Ocampo, Alaska’s LA Tenorio, Sonny Thoss and Mac Baracael, Rain Or Shine’s Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan, Ginebra’s Enrico Villanueva, Meralco’s Sol Mercado and Jay-Ar Reyes, Powerade’s Gary David, San Beda’s Garvo Lanete, and naturalized import Marcus Douthit.
Also in the practice was cadet pool candidate Matt Rosser, a Filipino-American who played for NCAA Division II school Cal Poly Pomona last year, where he started in all its 28 games and averaged 7.8 points and 2.7 rebounds. The 6’5” small forward is hoping to join the national pool and also suit up for the NLEX Road Warriors in the PBA D-League. “I’m excited to play here. It’s a great opportunity training with some of the country’s best players,” said the 22-year old Rosser.
Meanwhile, the only non-PBA player in the Jones Cup roster, Lanete, expressed his excitement as well in his inclusion in the national team. “Sobrang saya ko after ma-receive ko yung advise from the team management. Di ako makapaniwala na nakaka-practice ko ngayon yung mga PBA players. They welcomed me well and are all so kind to me,” said an ecstatic Lanete, who led the San Beda Red Lions to two straight NCAA titles in 2010 and 2011.
Last year, Smart Gilas took third place honors in the Jones Cup by whipping host Chinese-Taipei, 82-72. Douthit and Baracael remain the only holdovers from the 2011 roster. Gone are Chris Tiu, JV Casio, Japeth Aguilar, Mark Barroca, Jason Ballesteros, Dylan Ababou, Chris Lutz, Marcio Lassiter, Don-don Hontiveros and Asi Taulava.