Tale of the Tape: How does the Philippines stack up against China?
Enzo Flojo on Aug 21, 2018 09:39 AM
Can Christian Standhardinger and the rest of the Philippines' big men overcome the taller frontline of China? (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)The big day has come. The Philippine national men's basketball team, currently fondly dubbed by fans as the "Gilastopainters," will finally do battle with old rival and tormentor China in Group D of the Asian Games.
Can the Philippines beat the mighty Chinese -- the winningest team in Asian Games history? Can the Gilastopainters break a 44-year drought when it comes to defeating the Big Red Machine?
Let's see how our boys measure up on paper.
Frontline: Advantage China
It's easy to give the hulking Chinese the edge here, what with their having two 7-footers and a bevy of guys standing 6'8" or taller. The one to watch is 7'2" Houston Rocket Zhou Qi, who, despite being just 22 years old, could be the best overall big man in the Asian Games when all is said and done. He runs the floor well, can shoot from the perimeter, finishes strong around the cup, and blocks shots like nobody's business. His length, athleticism, and timing will be huge stumbling blocks for a Filipino frontline lacking anyone taller than 6'9.
Aside from Zhou, other guys who certainly put the hurt on the Philippines are 7'0" Wang Zhelin and 6'8" Abudushalamu Abudurexiti. Wang was a bona fide NBA draft pick by Memphis in 2016, while Abudurexiti was China's best power forward in both the first and third windows of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, averaging around 16 points and 8 rebounds. Needless to say, Poy Erram, Christian Standhardinger, Asi Taulava, Beau Belga, and Raymond Almazan will all have their hands full tonight.
Wings: Advantage Philippines
I'll go out on a limb and say that just by having Jordan Clarkson, the Filipinos will have the edge here, and that's despite China's having two-time CBA MVP Ding Yanyuhang. I don't think that, pound-for-pound, anyone on China can stop Clarkson from making his move and penetrating, though scoring on two 7-footers protecting the rim may be too much even for the Cleveland Cavalier guard. Still, Clarkson's scoring ability may be too much to handle for China at this level, and he'll definitely make Ding work extra hard on the defensive end.
Gabe Norwood and James Yap will be key for the Philippines here. Defensively Gabe can hold his own against any of the Chinese wingmen, who will feature CBA Slam Dunk champion Zhao Tailong and three-point specialist Liu Zhixuan aside from Dallas Maverick signee Ding, while Yap's outside shooting will be crucial in helping spread China's D.
Backcourt: Advantage Philippines
As explosive as our wing scoring can be, it's really in the backcourt where the Philippines can flourish against China. Zhao Jiwei, one of China's top two point guards, was supposed to make it to Jakarta, but an injury has sidelined him, effectively handing over playmaking reigns to national team debutante Tian Yuxiang, the unsteady Fang Shuo, youngster Zhao Rui, and natural two-guard Sun Minghui -- another CBA Slam Dunk champion.
Their main task will be trying to stop the athletic duo of Stanley Pringle and Maverick Ahanmisi, who combined for 22 points and 4 steals in their lopsided win over Kazakhstan last Thursday. Add prolific scorer Paul Lee to the mix, too, alongside the wily Chris Tiu, and, boy, China's guards may find themselves dancing to the wrong tune tonight.
Pringle, of course, is going to be an x-factor. The 31-year-old will need to have another solid showing for the Philippines to really maximize their advantage in the backcourt. His penetration and decision-making will be barometers for the Filipinos' success here, so he needs to be aggressive and sharp.
Coaching: Advantage China
This is Yeng Guiao's first tour of duty with the national team in nearly ten years, while Li Nan has been coaching at the international level continuously since last year. Though Yeng has been coaching, on aggregate, for a much longer time, Li has been with this particular iteration of China's national team for more than a year now, and that familiarity with his team coupled with his experience in the Asian Qualifiers gives him the slight advantage. Of course, Li has not coached against a player like Jordan Clarkson yet, so he'll be thrown into the fire as well.
I don't exactly know who has the tougher task here -- Yeng needs to find a way to limit the effectiveness of China's bigs, while Li needs to devise a scheme to slow Jordan Clarkson down. Neither is easy, but whoever gets to crack his puzzle should give his respective side a big boost.
Overall, China can still be considered slight favorites in this matchup, owing to their collective recent international experience and their size, though they're one Jordan Clarkson or Stanley Pringle explosion away from starting their Asiad campaign on a losing note.