Team Philippines has always been known as a good offensive club.
One of their biggest shortcomings on the court has been on defence. Midway through the Division Two season of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association 2013 National Men’s League, the statistics bore that out as the side had allowed a league-high 333 points.
Head coach Erwin ‘Bong’ Blancaflor states his side will make big adjustments for the playoffs.
“At first, many of them were hesitant, a bit scared to shoot or to commit errors, but I’m always telling them my principle: it’s better to shoot and miss than not to shoot at all,” Blancaflor said. “We’ve learned our lesson from the first game, that’s why the team is now more focused and very eager to win and the only way to do that is to use our quickness and be smart.
“We always focus on our defence, that’s my first rule to them: defence is a good offence. That’s the same thing I did when I was coaching the Under-15 national team. I took three of my boys, Juawon Ebanks, Arin Taylor and Naithique Jackson, from that team and let them play in the men’s league for more exposure.
“I was surprised by their performance, they are playing beyond my expectations. We are doing a lot of adjustments every practice, especially on our game plans, because I believe if we are doing those things regularly, everything will be smooth and automatic.”
According to the last available association standings, Philippines, 5-3, head into this week in second place. They trail 7-1 Game Takers while leading 4-2 Charterland, 2-3 Titans, 2-4 Esso Blazers and 0-7 New Jerusalem.
The Filipinos close out their season in the regular season finale on Sunday, 19 May, against the Game Takers at 4pm at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. There is a double-header slated for Wednesday, 15 May, with Charterland facing Keon Bodden’s Blazers at 6.15pm before New Jerusalem challenge Bruce Thompson’s Titans at 7.45pm.
The Pinoy crew is coming off a pair of interesting results. Last month, Esso claimed a 93-91 upset victory in spite of four players scoring in double digits for the Philippines as Darwin Mancenido soared for 35 points and seven rebounds, Paul Villanueva registered 18 points including four 3-pointers and five rebounds, Kevin Hyland added 15 points and 10 rebounds and Rommel Mesina chipped in 12 points and seven steals.
Philippines would bounce back to destroy New Jerusalem, 79-33, earlier this month. Villanueva had a game-high 16 points with four treys, Mancenido contributed 15 points and 12 rebounds and Carlo Manuel posted 14 points with two long bombs. Phillip Bodden had 11 points and six rebounds for the losing team with Michael Blackburn adding 10 points.
On Sunday, the Filipinos face a Game Takers crew that has nearly wrapped up the regular season crown. The side had an impressive 77-69 victory over Charterland this month as Darryl Paddyfoot scored 22 points and 14 rebounds, Cleve Stewart Jr posted 20 points off five treys, Nigel Ebanks added 13 points and 11 rebounds and Maxwell Linwood chipped in 10 points and five rebounds.
Jeremy Strickland led Charterland, the defending champions, with 16 points, including four treys and five rebounds. Chris LeBeau notched 10 points with three treys and five rebounds and Ryne Staback had 10 points and seven rebounds.
Blancaflor states his expectations for this season remain high.
“My goal is always for the championship: shoot the stars and you might hit the moon. I know we can do it, I believe in their capacity and capability, I trust them and I have high hopes on this team. As long as we are united, focused and aggressive, it can be beyond my expectations.”
The playoffs, which centre on best-of-three series featuring the top four squads, will start next Thursday, 23 May.
Division Two will be in action well beyond Division One. The focus in that group is on Barrett Edri and the reigning champions, Esso Blazers, battling Rotando Thompson’s Dominos Warriors and Denton Cole’s Silver Bullets for playoff positioning.