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Perez, Tautuaa are 'quality players' but need lots of work to catch up with 3x3 play, says coach Stojacic

by Niel Victor Masoy, February 19, 2020 8:17pm

Gilas Pilipinas 3x3 head coach Stefan Stojacic finally saw CJ Perez and Mo Tautuaa practiced with the country's pool of players for the 3x3 FIBA Olympic Qualifiers for the first time on Wednesday afternoon at the Ronac Gym in Mandaluyong City.

And one thing the 2018 FIBA 3x3 World Tour Most Valuable Player (MVP) quickly recognized was the legitimate talent of Perez and Tautuaa, who, together with Chris Newsome and Jason Perkins, won the 2019 3x3 Southeast Asian Games gold medal for the Philippines.

However, Stojacic, who is bound to play for Russia in the 3x3 Olympics, was also quick to point out that Perez and Tautuaa have a lot of work to do to thrive in the 3x3 basketball style of play.

It's the same thing he pointed out with the Philippines' no. 1 3x3 player Joshua Munzon and no. 2 player Alvin Pasaol last month.

Of course, Munzon and Pasaol, together with Perez and Tautuaa, made up the Philippine team for the Qualifiers.

"CJ and Mo, they are new players in the 3x3. They played in the SEA Games, but SEA Games is still different from the international level of playing 3x3. But they have quality, they are good players. They know how to play basketball. Now, we just need to change their mindset in 3x3," said Stojacic, who is ranked by FIBA as the 57th best player in the world.

"There's a lot of work to do in front especially because there's a lot of needed experience in playing 3x3 and how the game is different than 5-on-5 especially by the rules - How are you positioning. How are you boxing out. What are the advantages in offense and defense. It's different and opposite from 5-on-5.

"That's what they need to learn. They know how to play but 3x3 is something different. We have one month to prepare them for the 3x3 game. I'm sure it's going to be a competitive game. The OQT is really hard."

Between Perez and Tautuaa, Stojic said the former has a lot more to work on than the latter.

That is because of their positions. For Tautuaa, who is a 6-foot-7 big man and used to play inside, there's not that much change to do in the 3x3 style of play.

On the other hand, for the 6-foot-2 perimetrical player in Perez, Stojacic said, he basically needs to do it all.

"For Mo, it's going to be easier because he's a big guy, he will still play inside, maybe there are changes, but for him it's going to be easier," shared Stojacic.

"For CJ, especially on the defense, he's going to have trouble, but still he's a great player. He knows how to play. He's individually really good. For him, it's going to be much bigger change than for Mo.

"If you're playing as a big guy, you're playing a big guy. But if you're playing outside in 3x3, you need to guard the big guy, you need to guard the small guy. You need to fight, you need to rebound. You need to be an all-around player. That's the thing for 3x3. There's no place to hide. That's the problem with 3x3 but we'll see."

Still, Stojacic expects Perez to be one of the Philippines main men in the Qualifiers set to transpire from March 18 to 20 in India.

"I expect him to be one of the main scorers for the team, three-point shooting and everything, but it's his defense that he needs to work on."

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