Gilas Pilipinas’ comeback attempt against Jordan came up short, but Justin Brownlee showed how good he could be in the international game.
Gilas Pilipinas mounted an inspired comeback attempt on Monday but ultimately fell short, losing a 91-90 decision to Jordan in the 2023 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. Dar Tucker led Jordan in the scoring column with 22 markers, while lead guard Freddy Ibrahim tallied 19 points and 8 assists.
The headline early on was Jordan’s scintillating shooting from the three-point line. They already had 60 points by the end of the first two quarters, scorching Gilas with a 50% clip from three (12-24 3P). It was unexpected for a team who does not get the bulk of their points from long range. As a team, Jordan is only ranked 7th in three-point shooting (30% 3P) in the Asian Qualifiers.
But without their best big man Ahmad Al Dwairi — who had 17 points and 16 rebounds in Jordan’s previous matchup with Gilas last November — Jordan tried their luck from the outside, and it paid off. But it wouldn’t be possible without Ibrahim and Tucker doing a tremendous job of putting paint pressure in the first half. Gilas didn’t have an impactful rim protector like Kai Sotto or Japeth Aguilar in this window, so their perimeter defenders had to pack the paint on those penetrations and pick-and-rolls.
The clip below shows how Jordan took advantage of CJ Perez tagging the roll.
It also didn’t help that Jordan hit contested threes like these.
The Gilas defense miscommunicated on a few ball-screens in the first half, but despite their lack of natural rim protection ability, I thought that they did a good job of cutting off Jordan’s penetrations.
Eventually, the law of averages caught up with Jordan in the second half. After hitting 12 three-pointers in the first two quarters, Jordan only produced a 3-of-20 clip from beyond the arc in the second half.
Gilas’ failed comeback attempt in the second half saw them outscore Jordan, 49-31. The point-of-attack defense was better, and Justin Brownlee put on his superhero cape when Gilas needed him the most. Along with his stellar shot-making, Gilas also put Brownlee in situations where he could take advantage of his matchups.
Gilas spammed the dribble handoff plays to Brownlee at the top of the key, and the 34-year-old naturalized player went to work.
The DHO plays to Brownlee were effective because of his shot-making and also the floor spacing that the Gilas perimeter shooters provided. Gilas surrounded Brownlee with four players who could shoot the three and also put the ball on the floor, essentially forcing the Jordan defense to stay home on their individual assignments.
This Gilas offense will only get better in time. The recipe is there: paint pressure and floor spacing. If they could log more time together and build that chemistry, there’s hope that Gilas could surprise a lot of people in the World Cup. Speaking of chemistry, look at the three Ginebra guys connect on the fly.
Exciting times for the Gilas program.