Gilas Pilipinas’ offense was on another level in the win against Lebanon.
Quick ball reversals, paint touches, and a whole lot of space to work with — Gilas Pilipinas hummed to a very fine tune on offense, clobbering Lebanon with a 107-96 victory in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Friday. Justin Brownlee led Gilas in the scoring column with 17 points, while Jamie Malonzo provided a spark off the bench with 15 points, three assists, and two blocks.
Concerns of fielding just one legitimate big man quickly went up in smoke, as Gilas carved up Lebanon’s defense by creating a lot of space on offense, effectively attacking closeouts, and shooting the three-ball well. Gilas made seven of their first nine three-point attempts, all of which were assisted.
A 13-0 run spanning the first and second quarters opened up a double-digit lead for Gilas, providing enough cushion against Lebanon’s comeback attempts. With their three-point shots falling early, it opened up opportunities for Gilas to attack closeouts, as Jordan Heading did before kicking out to a wide-open three from Mason Amos.
Brownlee did not score boatloads of points, but he didn’t need to — he just has to be the excellent connector that he has always been. Brownlee compiled five assists, working as a playmaking hub in plays like this.
Brownlee being a connector on offense doesn’t just point to what he could do with the ball. His positioning and cutting also helped generate scoring opportunities for his teammates.
In the clip below, look at how Brownlee’s dive cut sucked Lebanon’s defense to the paint, opening up Ray Parks on the weak side, who then opted for a better shot by attacking the closeout and delivering the ball to a wide-open Heading three.
Although the offense became stagnant at times, particularly in the latter part of the second half, Gilas definitely showed true offensive potential in the Lebanon game. Scottie Thompson and Kiefer Ravena were excellent in their role as floor generals as usual. But what stood out is it seemed that every Gilas player outside of the two bigs (Fajardo, Amos) showed that they could put the ball on the floor and make the right decisions in Gilas’ half-court sets.
The defense does need work though, and we’ll see how they fare against a more complete Jordan squad on Monday. Overall, the offense that Gilas displayed against Lebanon — even if it was just one game — is a big step forward.