Everyone is talking about Tony Parker and Boris Diaw as the biggest threats to Gilas Pilipinas’ upset bid of world no. 5 France in the opener of the 2016 Manila FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament.
But if you ask Gilas assistant coach Josh Reyes, the team’s designated scout and video coordinator, there’s one player outside the NBA who should really be a cause of concern for Gilas’ defense.
“Of course, you got the usual names – Tony Parker. Their offense runs through him. The other obvious one, Boris Diaw, but I guess really, who I am wary of is Nando de Colo. He’s been playing really well in Europe,” Reyes told FOX Sports.
While he doesn’t ring a bell to NBA fans after forgettable stints with the San Antonio Spurs and Toronto Raptors, De Colo finally came out of his shell in the Euroleague.
Fresh off a Euroleague title with the CSKA Moscow and romping off the regular and Final Four MVP awards just last season, De Colo presents a bigger problem for Gilas especially at the wings.
Gilas got a good break with versatile wingman Nicolas Batum barred from playing in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament opener due to restraints from his new NBA contract but they still have one big problem to take care of.
De Colo, a 6-foot-5 wingman, shot 53 percent from the field on his way to averaging 19.4 points on top of 3.6 rebounds and 5 assists in his breakout year in Euroleague.
“Most of their early points come from him. So it’s challenge that’s why we really need size and good defensive presence in the wings spot to be able to, at least contain and match him up physically. And that includes scheming a lot, hindi siya pwedeng man-to-man lang, tapat-tapat sa bantay. It has to be a lot of scheming and good rotation,” said Reyes, who was left behind in Europe when the national pool went home after their training camp and tuneup matches in Italy to scout France extensively.
Josh, the son of former Gilas coach Chot Reyes, was accompanied by Marc Pingris’ father while in France to get a closer look of the new Les Blues team and he was particularly impressed with De Colo.
Reyes had studied France since they faced them in Antibes, France two years ago during their buildup for the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
De Colo wasn’t around and it was Batum, who killed them at the wing spot. And there lies the big difference aside from having their captain Parker back.
“I think now they are more hungry. Parker is really playing good on both ends of the floor. They got De Colo back. Last 2 years ago, he was injured. And you see that they have a plan,” said Reyes referring to France’s decision to drop 7-foot-2 NBA veteran Alexis Ajinca to play small ball, which is now the ongoing trend in international basketball.
“They’re not really small but you know the bigs that they have are really versatile and they have a bunch of stretch fours. They look small but across the board, they’re big with their wingmen,” Reyes noted.
This year’s Les Blues team has an average height of 6’7 compared to Gilas’ 6’5. After De Colo, France still has 6-foot-7 Mickael Gelabale and 6-foot-4 Charles Kahudi at the wings.
Reyes, through the help of the network of coaches and scouts he was able to build through the years, got tapes of France’s games and was able to study them and break it down for Gilas. His recent side trip to France was to watch them personally and got mindful of their hand signals for their plays.
“France is all about stopping their pick-and-roll. They run 7 different pick-and-roll sets either for De Colo, Parker and (Thomas Heurtel) so those are the things we really need to prepare for,” noted Reyes aside from Diaw’s post plays. – By Alder Almo
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