MANILA, Philippines — Scottie Thompson was in his element with his all-around brilliance on full display for Gilas Pilipinas in the fifth window of the Fiba World Cup Asian qualifiers at Prince Hamza Hall in Amman, Jordan.
The Barangay Ginebra star dazzled with eight points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists in his best Fiba outing so far.
“Doon talaga ako komportable. Yung kung ano yung best ko na maitutulong sa team, yung ginagawa ko sa Ginebra. Hoping ako noon na madala ko dito sa Gilas. Thankful kasi napapakita ko,” Thompson said shortly after the Philippines handed Jordan’s first home defeat since 2018 with a 74-66 victory.
“Hindi naman masyadong malaking adjustment kasi sa Ginebra naglalaro na ako ng point, kahit papaano nakakatulong na nandiyan si coach Tim (Cone) to guide me,” he added.
(I was at my comfort zone. That’s what I do best to help the team, like what I do for Ginebra. I was hoping to bring it here in Gilas and I’m thankful I did it. It wasn’t a huge adjustment because I’ve been playing as point guard in Ginebra and coach Tim was there to guide me.)
The reigning PBA MVP, who shot 4-of-5 from the field, said his main focus was to make the most of Gilas’ offensive firepower.
— FIBA Basketball World Cup (@FIBAWC) November 10, 2022
“I’m not focus on scoring, I just grab it when there’s a chance because we have key players like CJ Perez, Ray Parks, and Dwight Ramos,” said Thompson in Filipino. “I wanted to stick to my role as a point guard by spreading the ball to them and balancing their touches, especially that Kai (Sotto) is there. I’m thankful for this opportunity to lead them as point guard.”
The 6-foot-1 guard stood the tallest as he led Gilas in rebounding, seven of which were offensive boards, in a commendable effort that ignited the Nationals’ energy.
“It’s all about heart because when you play for the Philippines, you should play your heart out. My rebounds were all-heart to help my team, especially down the stretch, I’m just doing my best,” Thompson said. “And aside from our rebounding, our defense was solid that’s why they (Jordan) couldn’t find a good position. We communicate always inside the court even whenever there’s a deadball, we huddle.”
The 29-year-old Thompson also wanted to step up in the absence of team captain Kiefer Ravena, who begged off due to an emergency dental surgery.
“Coach Chot (Reyes) told us before flying here that Kiefer won’t be able to join us, so next man up and everybody should step up,” Thompson said. “And we only have few point guards. I’m just thankful that I was able to give my best. Credits to everyone because we all gave our best for our countrymen here who watched the game.”
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes was glad that Thompson lived up to the expectations and embraced his role, showing that he is finally building a stronger connection with his teammates.
“I thought he’s not going to be overpowered by the 6’4 or 6’5 point guards like Freddy Ibrahim today. And he delivered,” said Reyes. “His first time (with us) against Lebanon and even Saudi, Scottie was still feeling his way around and the things that we do. But slowly we’re seeing really what he can do from that position and we got a lot of guys at the two and three spots and we really need Scottie at the point.”
After his best game in a Gilas uniform, Thompson vows to continue to embrace his role, seeking to sweep the fifth window by taking care of business against Saudi Arabia on Monday (Manila time).
“We will stick to coach’s system and trust the process. This win is a big boost to our confidence coming to Saudi,“ Thompson said. “I hope we will be able to surpass the energy of Saudi in their home court.”
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