By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
A STAPLE in Team Pilipinas in the last two windows of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers, Scottie Thompson is hoping that the lessons he got from his previous stints with the nationals would help him further contribute to the squad in its push to earn a spot in the world basketball spectacle.
Part of the pool of players preparing for the sixth and final window of the qualifiers next month, the do-it-all Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings star said he is very thankful to be considered once again for a roster spot in Team Pilipinas and that he is coming into the next window “more prepared.”
“First of all, I would like to thank God that I am once again part of the pool, and to Coach Yeng (Guiao) for the trust he has given me and picking me as part of the pool,” said Mr. Thompson, in the vernacular, during the national team’s practice last week at the Meralco Gym.
“For this upcoming window of the qualifiers, I think I can do better because I have more understanding of how the games are played in FIBA, particularly the physicality, and can adjust accordingly. It also helps that I was part of the team since Coach Yeng took over. I know his system and what he expects from me,” added Mr. Thompson, who has averaged 3.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 12 minutes of playing time per game in four matches in the qualifiers.
Team Pilipinas is set to see action in the sixth window on Feb. 21 and 24 where it will play in away matches Qatar and Kazakhstan, respectively.
Currently sporting a 5-5 record in the merged Group F of the qualifiers, the Philippines needs to sweep its remaining games to have a better shot at advancing to the next round by landing in the top three in the group for automatic entry or as the best fourth-placed team in the two groups left.
Part of the Philippine Basketball Association-bannered pool for the sixth window apart from Mr. Thompson are naturalized player Andray Blatche, Jayson Castro, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Marcio Lassiter, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, JP Erram, June Mar Fajardo, Raymond Almazan and Roger Pogoy.
Christian Standhardinger, meanwhile, will serve as a backup naturalized player.
With their backs against the wall, Mr. Thompson said they have to play collectively in synch and follow their game plan under Mr. Guiao in next month’s matches.
“We have to stick to the system of Coach Yeng. Hopefully we show better chemistry in the next window to be able to get the result that we want,” 25-year-old Mr. Thompson said.
“One of the things that did us last time around was our unfamiliarity with our opponents. So this time we have to study the videos well, paying attention to every detail. We must study our opponents’ plays and tendencies so we can prepare for them better,” he added.
In Group F, the remaining automatic spot for the next round is being disputed by Japan (6-4), the Philippines (5-5) and Kazakhstan (4-6). Already qualified from the grouping are Australia and Iran.
The Philippines, which lost its two home-stand matches in the fifth window late last year, can finish anywhere between third and fifth. It could notch a spot in the World Cup with as little as one win as it holds a tie-breaker against Japan, but even if it wins both games in the sixth window, it will have to depend on other results.
Alternatively, according to FIBA, the Philippines could qualify as the best fourth-placed team in Asia as long as it avoids losing to Kazakhstan by more than 48 points or losing twice in the final window, as it would finish fifth. It would also finish fifth if Kazakhstan wins both games and Japan wins at least once.