DIGOS CITY—Speed kills and that’s what Team Mindanao used to shock the taller, more high-profile Smart PBA All Stars composed of Gilas Pilipinas players in the first leg of the mid-season event held at Davao del Sur Coliseum here on Wednesday.
Composed mostly of guards, players of the “host” region took turns shooting the lights out of the gym in the fourth quarter resulting in a 144-130 win.
“Ang advantage nila kasi malalaki sila,” said Baser Amer, who came off the bench to score 22 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
“Pero may advantage din kami kahit maliliit kami. Binilisan namin 'yung pacing ng laro. Siguro du'n kami nakalamang.”
Jio Jalalon agreed, saying that to offset the size advantage enjoyed by the likes of June Mar Fajardo or Japeth Aguilar Jalalon and his quicker teammates needed to run, run, run.
“Ginawa naming takbuhan kasi puro kami guards. 'Yun ang strength namin, kaya si kuya June Mar tinatakbuhan namin. Doon kami nakalamang,” said the Magnolia point guard, who finished with 12 points and 9 assists.
Mark Barroca said his team might have caught Smart napping.
Coupled with Mindanao’s carefree style, this could have led to the nationals’ defeat, the Magnolia playmaker said.
“Parang nagkumpiyansa lang sila. Hindi naman basta-basta matatalo 'yun, ang lakas-lakas nu'n,” Barroca said.
“First game lang nila 'yan. Tignan mo sa next game, iba na 'yan. Ayaw naman nilang magpatalo ng 3 games, di ba? Kami sineryoso namin sila, sila siguro hindi lang sineryoso kaya nanalo kami.”
Smart, which will mix its lineup in the next 2 stops of the all-star series, will play in Batangas on Friday and Iloilo on Sunday.
Fajardo said it seems that his fellow national teammates have to adjust their defense to keep the smaller players in check.
He scored 34 points and feasted on smaller defenders, but his dominance wasn’t enough to save Gilas.
While Smart shot 51% from the floor, Mindanao got away shooting 57%, a number made more eye-popping by the fact that the team is composed mostly of back-court players and that it doesn't have scoring-minded big men.
“Siguro ‘yung depensa, kailangang paigtingin ang depensa namin. Lalo’t puro gwardya sila,” Fajardo said. “Ang taas ng porsyento nila sa field.”
But Smart coach Norman Black said there’s no need to be worried about Gilas, which will play in the third window of World Cup qualifiers on June 29.
“It’s an all-star game. It’s not a national team game, it’s not a national competition. It’s for the fans, it’s entertainment. You wanna win, but it’s an all-star game,” Black said.
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