Wednesday, July 20, 2016

5 Things Puerto Rico Must Do To Beat Chile

Puerto Rico U18 plays Chile's U18  team tonight at 8:45pm in what could be the game that determines who qualifies for the U19 World Championship from their bracket next summer in Egypt. Team USA looks like a lock so there is only one spat left. The two teams know each other fairly well given Chile spent 4 days in Puerto Rico earlier this month and the two scrimmaged against each other several times.

Chile is led by PG Nicolas Aguirre and C Filipe Haase. Aguirre is widely considered to be the best amateur PG in South America and Haase who verbally committed to Colorado State is a 6'10 workhorse who can score from the block and knock down jumpers from behind the arc. The team does a great job of feeding the ball into the post and their guards understand the value of cutting hard to the basket and creating space to Haase to wheel and deal. Haase is an above average passer and finds open shooters when double teamed. PG/SG Ignacio Arroyo is often the recipient of those passes and knocks down open looks consistently. He led the team in scoring last night vs. ISV 16 points. 

Chile is an incredibly disciplined team with players who know and accept their roles. They rarely take bad shots and always look to make the extra pass. The arena is sold out for tonight's game and like almost all home game that matter when you are playing away Puerto Rico must accept that they are starting the game down 10 points. They must accept that over the course of the game the referees may make up to five calls that are in favor of the home team and will cost Puerto Rico up to 10 points. Tonight is a huge night for Chilean Basketball. This team, the home team has been nurtured and developed for years to get to this point. One game at home to qualify for the 19U World Championship. 

Puerto Rico is also in an unique position. They get to play the role of spoiler. Typically Puerto Rico has been the favorite in most of the games they play in FIBA. Yesterday was an exception and USA proved why they are on a completely different level then PR. But tonight the U18 Team from Puerto Rico can prove itself to be a team or what some are suggesting is a group of all stars uncommitted to playing and sacrificing for each other. Only time will tell which one the players decide they want to be. 

We have put together a list of 5 things Puerto Rico must do to beat Chile at home. 

1. Accept Roles and Responsibilities/Energy Generating Behavior"EGB"-Thus far we have seen players do all sorts of things that are not consistent with the roles they need to play to help the team win. Tonight must be about WE not ME.  Each player needs to focus on finding a way to help the team win other than scoring. At the next level they call it getting "EGBs". Energy Generating Behavior is infectious and when players accept their roles and focus on how to get EGBs it changes the way the team plays.  

2. Play Team Defense and Help The Helper-Chile is the most disciplined and selfless team in the tournament. They often make five passes in a possession before taking a shot. For a poor defensive team this could be a nightmare. Puerto Rico will need to stay focused on their collective rotations and limit open looks for Aguirre and Arroyo. Defense is the calling card for any team trying to steal a game away from home. Thus far, Puerto Rico's team defense has been average. They can't allow Aguirre to get hot early and they must defend Haase intelligently sending different players from different places to double team him. Both guards and bigs must aggressively close out on scorers and not become spectators on the defensive end. 

3. Act Like A Championship Team/Leadership- The entire team from Puerto Rico are really good kids. But, we have seen no leadership from anyone on the team. Players like Cruz, Washington, Allende and Pacheco need to provide leadership and pull guys into huddles and be more vocal during timeouts.  They were part of a team that finished 5th in the world in 2014. There was an energy and vibe with that team. You could see everyone was all in and playing for each other all the time.  Who will emerge as a leader tonight vs Chile?

4.   Turnover/Assist Ratio, 3 Pt FG% and Rebounds-There are three statistics we at IPRB believe are the baseline for winning games. First, as a team we need to be at a three to one (3 to 1) assist to turnover ratio. We would like to see 20 assists and less then 7 turnovers as a team.  Second, every open look from three is not necessarily a good look. We went four for twenty four (4-24) from behind the arc yesterday. Most of those looks were rushed and not in the flow of the offense. There is almost always a better shot available then a long range 3. Puerto Rico must shoot over 30% from behind the arc and shoot no more 16 3-point shots in total.  Lastly, we must rebound the ball as a team and limit Chile to one shot per possession and grab over 40 rebounds as a team. 

5.  Aguirre, Haase and Arroyo Cannot Be Allowed To Beat Puerto Rico/Apply Pressure-Aguirre is streaky and can become deadly if you let him play his game. He has not proven he can make contested shots consistently.  Haase is an emotional player who plays harder when he is successful early. And Arroyo gives the entire team confidence when he knocks down open threes. Puerto Rico must prevent the big three for Chile from getting off early.  There must be a high level communication on where the three of them are on the court and every shot must be contested. There is a lot of pressure on Chile to win tonight and someone other then Aguirre, Haase and Arroyo must be the guy to do that. If Puerto Rico is going to win this game tonight, it's going to be because they contained Chile's big 3.