Going into the most critical stretch of the Asian Games, Gilas Pilipinas can’t afford to fall apart.
Our national team is coming off a basketball high in the Fiba World Cup, losing close contests to cage world powers like Croatia, Argentina and Puerto Rico by an average margin of less than four points.
In the ongoing Asian Games, we’ve seen Gilas struggle in the second half before beating a tough Indian side. But Gilas faded in both occasions against powerhouse Iran (63-68) and Qatar (68-77) the last two days.
Entering the last two games against South Korea, which enjoys the support of its hometown crowd, followed by Kazakhstan, we are just hoping that Gilas coach Chot Reyes’ post-game tirade against naturalized center Marcus Douthit won’t affect the Syracuse, New York native and the morale of the team.
“We’re all disappointed in Marcus…Our big guy, Douthit, just quit,” Reyes said, firing the post-game salvo against the 6-10 big man, whom we couldn’t deny, sacrificed a lot and worked hard to help Gilas finish a surprise second to Iran in the Fiba-Asia men’s championships last year, that allowed the Philippines a return trip to the world championships for the first time since 1978.
Pinning the blame on Douthit alone won’t solve Gilas’ seeming vulnerability in the Asian Games.
Since Gilas is out to shoot for no less than the Asiad gold that could hopefully end the country’s title drought dating back to 1962, such negative media rant only adds fuel to the fire.
At this point, Gilas players, particularly Douthit, need encouragement, more than “media scolding”.
I like how True Life Aim Coaching explains the role of a “coach”:
“Today, a coach helps a person move up a level, by expanding a skill, by boosting performance, or even by changing the way a person thinks. Coaches help people grow. They help people see beyond what they are today to what they can become tomorrow. A great coach helps ordinary folks do extraordinary things.”
The life of the late coaching great John Wooden, responsible for moulding and developing the basketball careers of now NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, set a great example on how coaching should be done.
And here’s how Washington Post columnist John Feinstein aptly described Wooden in a piece he wrote on June 5, 2010, just days after the well-respected American college basketball coaching legend passed away at age 99:
“Wooden won with more talent and more size than the opposition, and he won with less talent and size than the opposition. He won playing fast, and he won playing slow. On the rare occasions when he did lose, he never blamed his players or the officials. He was as gracious in defeat as he was in victory.”
The post-game “ripping” on Douthit has been done.
But let’s just hope and pray that Douthit, the “last-minute” replacement for NBA veteran Andray Blatche, will treat it as a motivation that could “re-awaken” his competitive fire beginning with the Koreans on Saturday (Sept. 27) in Incheon, South Korea.