As the men’s basketball semifinal between Gilas Pilipinas and China looms, head coach Tim Cone is preparing for a tactical challenge. He expects China to utilize the box-and-1 defense against Justin Brownlee, a defensive strategy that combines elements of the zone and man-to-man coverage.
Brownlee’s outstanding performance in the quarterfinals against Iran, where he scored 36 points on an impressive 12-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-7 from beyond the arc, has drawn attention. His clutch baseline jumper sealed the 84-83 victory and secured a spot for the Philippines in the Final Four of the 19th Asian Games.
However, despite his impressive stats, Brownlee was held to just two points in the crucial fourth quarter. Fatigue from extended minutes on the court and Iran’s use of the box-and-1 defense contributed to this decline in production.
Coach Cone expressed his concerns, acknowledging, “Yeah, certainly we’re concerned. He [Brownlee] was running out of steam, you could see it. I couldn’t give him enough breath in the second half. I should have maybe taken him out earlier. But as soon as I take him out, they start making a little bit of a run at us. And when I put him back in, they box-and-1 him.”
He credited the Iranian coach for a stellar job in rallying his team and acknowledged that as the game came down to the wire, it was the players who made the critical plays.
So, what exactly is the box-and-1 defense? It’s a specialized strategy used against teams with one dominant offensive player surrounded by teammates of lesser offensive capabilities. This defense designates one defender (the chaser) to shadow the opponent’s top offensive threat while the remaining four defenders form a zone formation.
Its primary objective is to disrupt the opponent’s offensive flow by introducing a defensive scheme they’re not accustomed to, compelling them to adjust their entire strategy.
Cone believes that China, having analyzed the footage of the Philippines-Iran match, is likely to employ the box-and-1 defense against Brownlee or any other hot-handed player for Gilas Pilipinas.
In preparation, Cone emphasized the need for counters, even without the luxury of a practice session. He stated, “So we can expect China to do it to us tomorrow as well. They’re gonna see our game, they’re gonna figure it out. So we gotta come out and do some counters done — without a practice. That’s the problem, we don’t have a practice. But we’ll see if we can get one in the morning, maybe shoot around, and see if we can get some things done.”
As the Philippine team strategizes for their crucial encounter against host China, it’s clear that finding effective counters to the anticipated box-and-1 defense will be a top priority. Coach Cone and his coaching staff are likely to conduct an extensive strategic team meeting and film viewing, focusing on this critical aspect of the game plan. The battle for a spot in the gold medal match promises to be intense, and Gilas Pilipinas is leaving no stone unturned in their quest for victory.