Mavericks' Kleber on Gilas: 'Being undersized no longer a problem'
Adrian Dy on Nov 06, 2018 10:07 AM
Maxi Kleber photo (L) by Richard W. Rodriguez, AP Photos
While Gilas Pilipinas is set to field some combination of June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger, Andray Blatche, and Japeth Aguilar during the next FIBA World Cup qualification window, the fact remains that on the international stage, the Philippines is still relatively small, compared to other countries.
That shouldn't be an issue though.
According to German national team member and current Dallas Maverick Maxi Kleber, changes to the way basketball is being played means being an undersized team is no longer a problem.
Speaking to reporters on an international media call, Kleber said, "If you look at the way the game changes [sic], you see more and more small 5 guys [centers] that can also shoot. You can solve a lot of problems on defense by switching. That's what a lot of teams do, so you expect smaller guys to be able to guard bigger guys.
"I think being an undersized team doesn't mean that you have to back off. Sometimes it's even tougher for other teams because a switching defense confuses and makes it tougher to score."
Gilas currently boasts of a 5-3 record in Group F, good for third, which would give them a spot in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup if qualification ended today. They're set to play Kqazakhstan on November 30, and Iran on December 3 to end the calendar year.
Coach Yeng Guiao is set to present a 20-man pool that will likely include the aforementioned bigs to the PBA Board later today. Other players that could possibly beef up the frontcourt include Poy Erram, Asi Taulava, Raymond Almazan and Kai Sotto.
"I think there's no reason to hide just because you're undersized," emphasized Kleber.
Kleber last suited up for Germany in 2015, posting averages of 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.0 assists.
During the 2017 Eurobasket competition, Germany placed 6th, its best showing in the tournament since a silver medal in 2005.
In nine games this season with the Mavericks, Kleber is averaging 7.6 points, 4.2 rebounds, and 1.4 blocks, while playing 18.8 minutes off the bench, all improvements on his 2017-18 rookie campaign. His three-point shooting has also jumped up to a 37.9 percent clip, converting 1.2 attempts per game.