Mendoza: Gilas to Fiba finals not a surprise

All Write

BE NOT surprised anymore. We are back in the Fiba World Cup because we ought to be there.

We are not exactly Lilliputians anymore.

Astonishingly, we’ve grown sky-high, too.

We are not exactly skyscrapers. N’yet. But we’ve produced, continue to produce, players taller than tall the last decade or so.

Does it have to do with the food of today? Nutritious to the max? Height-boosting vitamins? Bulk- and heft-oriented diet?

Maybe. Isn’t Kai Sotto, not yet 16, already a seven-footer?

June Mar Fajardo is 6-foot-10 and yet, his father is not even 6-footer. His mother is not even 5-foot-9.

Japeth Aguilar is 6-foot-9 and although his father, Peter (I baptized him St. Peter when he was still playing in the PBA), is about 6-foot-5, Japeth’s mother is not even close to six feet.

Raymond Almazan is 6-foot-8. Troy del Rosario is 6-foot-7. Poy Erram is 6-foot-8. Their parents do not have Goliath genes.

The ceiling of players cited here is not exactly accurate. But take away an inch apiece from their height and they’d still count as extraordinarily tall by Filipino standards.

Of course, height will always be might in basketball.

That is why despite the presence of Fajardo and his fellow near-seven footers, we still need someone taller than them: Andray Blatche.

Blatche we naturalized to more than beef up our middle. Before him was Marcus Douthit, whose tour of duty he had accomplished with distinction in the 2013 Fiba Asia Cup.

A former Washington Wizard and Brooklyn Net in the fabled NBA, Blatche imposed his 7-foot-1 bulk in powering Gilas Pilipinas to rousing routs over Qatar (84-46) and Kazakhstan (93-75) last weekend.

Colossal was Blatche’s performance against Kazakhstan on Sunday, drilling in 21 of Gilas’ first 26 points to help ensure a Philippine reentry into the Fiba World Cup in China in five years.

Gilas got a big lift to the China proper this November following South Korea’s 84-72 win over Lebanon on Feb. 24.

I raise a glass, too, to Yeng Guiao. Without his coaching dexterity, we would not have made it this far.


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