Pharex vs. Nokia-RP 030808

* The game was relatively close at the end of the 1st Quarter, w/ Pharex having only a 10 pt. lead 26-16. However, when Pharex started going to their full court press sometime in the 2nd quarter, that’s when they started padding their lead, stretching it to 18 pts. at the half, 55-37. From thereon they just kept pressing, & stretching their lead the rest of game, leading by as much as 40+ pts. before settling for a 33-pt. win, 106-73.

* I felt the reason the Nokia RP-Youth team broke down against the full court press was simply because of lack of mental toughness. The Youth team players GET INTIMIDATED by bigger PBL player’s more physical defense, who’re used to that kind of play. You could almost see the fear in the Youth player’s eyes when the opposing teams start pressing them closely & bodying them up on defense. They start missing gimme shots, making turnover after turnover, etc. Mental toughness usually comes w/ maturity, so these guys need to mature real fast if they are going to be competitive against the taller, bigger, & more experienced Youth teams from other Asian countries out there.

* Franz tried everything: He called timeout after timeout, he changed point guards from Garcia to Terso to Tolentino. He even experimented w/ Mark Mendoza & Samuel Marata at point. He changed players, trying to find the right combination to break & negate the effect of that press, but to no avail.

* CONDITIONING & STRENGTH training on the Abunassar camp also will perhaps help these players a lot. Flores, for example, was huffing & puffing only after a few minutes against the press. In one play, he lost the ball while posting up when his opponent bodied up on him. Franz frequently changed personnel, I suspect also because of conditioning issues w/ the players.

* The biggest surprise, though, was the wide bodied Frank Golla. Sure, he ate one or two shot block sandwiches, & had some turnovers, but he also was pounding the boards, & scoring off passes & offensive rebounds. He looked like a decent big man out there, the best in this team in this game. There may be hope for this kid after all.

* Tolentino still showed great speed, great passing, but even he succumbed to the pressure of that press. And he wasn’t a factor on offense. Whatever promise he had, is still a promise at this point.

* Samuel Marata showed flashes of brilliance on offense. He was about the only player I remember scoring effectively off drive in plays, & even did creditable job at point. Gabriel Banal also contributed some points for the team w/ his outside shots & some inside plays.

* Overall, I felt there was improvement in that the players were more aggressive than the last time I saw them play. They were now attacking the paint w/ regularity, & fighting for those rebounds. In the 4th quarter, they were starting to play thru the press more effectively. Despite the blowout scores, I feel they are adjusting to the higher level & more physical nature of the game in the PBL.

* As for Pharex, they are a small team which the Youth team can effectively match up in size, both vertically, & horizontally. However, they played like what we want this Youth team to be: Effective at pressing, great fastbreat plays, great ball movement & passing plays against a half court defense, & good outside shooting. This team just did everything right in this game. I hope they could do more of it against other PBL teams, though.

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