Noticeable in the Gilas practice Tuesday evening at the Meralco Gym was the mini three-point shootout the coaching staff played before and after their training session.
Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, assistant coaches Jimmy Alapag, Josh Reyes and Jong Uichico, team trainer Dexter Aseron and even team manager Butch Antonio were all scattered behind the three-point arc, taking turns heaving the ball — each trying to best the next by making a triple every turn they got.
It just goes to show how much Gilas values outside shooting.
That’s why the national pool includes a handful of reliable shooters like Matthew Wright, Von Pessumal, RR Pogoy, and Allein Maliksi. The coaching staff knows how crucial it is to have three-point shooting in their arsenal to help space the floor against bigger opponents.
“It’s very important not just in the dribble-drive (system) but in international tournaments as a whole, especially in the SEABA tournament with my experience there. Playing a lot of tournaments in the SEABA level, most of the teams, in fact all of the teams will zone us at some point in the game,” explained the younger Reyes.
“Where we struggled in the past was when we were not able to hit our shots. Even in the past, teams have bigger wing guys than us and bigger bigs so outside shooting is very important especially when they drop in that zone. It’s good also to balance it with inside presence, but certain parts of the game you will need to hit your outside shots definitely.”
The dribble-drive offense is new to Maliksi. With his mother team Star, he has had to create his own shots most of the time, but with Gilas he gets the ball in the right spots and can shoot it as soon as he receives the pass.
Maliksi is a capable scorer and every now and then can explode from beyond the arc. That’s one of the primary reasons why he was included in the Gilas pool, and he’s aware of that.
“Actually kinakapa ko pa kung paano ako makakakuha ng mga attack points. Pero more on catch and shoot lang talaga muna. Yun naman ang pinaka-role ko so far, to spread the floor and mag-stay home sa akin yung tao ko para lumuwag sa loob. Kung mag-collapse yung tao, I need to make shots.”
Pessumal, another dependable outside gunner, shared the same sentiments.
“Sa offense na ‘to medyo free flowing. Just be ready to shoot. Yung spacing ng offense sobrang wide. My defender if mag-help siya kahit konti lang ‘pag napasa sakin pwede ko na i-shoot,” he said.
Reyes said the ability to knock down outside shots will definitely be a factor in selecting players who will make the final lineup for the upcoming SEABA tilt.
“We have a lot of shooters naman. Even our point guards can shoot the ball. Mahirap magsalita ng tapos but definitely the shooting prowess against the zone is a big consideration.”
Does that mean shooters like Pessumal and Maliksi have the advantage over the other pool members? The GlobalPort rookie doesn’t think so.
“I feel like everybody was selected here for a reason. Just because you’re not as good a shooter as somebody else doesn’t mean you won’t have a chance to make it,” said Pessumal.
But if ever Maliksi does get selected, he said he’ll do everything he can to prove he is worthy of the slot.
“Kailangan ko gampanan yung role ko as a shooter. I need to step up dun sa expectations sakin nila coach at yung mga ibang nagta-trust sa akin.”