VIEW FROM THE OUTFIELD: The blueprint

The Triangle Offense could be the trending search topic for coaches and basketball fanatics over the past two days.

That’s because Tim Cone’s Gilas Pilipinas have been breaking the minds of European coaches with his favorite triangle. First, Turkey, then Poland in the Olympic Qualifying Tournament buildup. Then Latvia tasted bitter defeat from Coach Tim’s triangle as the hosts and world no. 6 succumbed badly to Gilas in a shocking defeat that reverberated in tectonic proportions across basketballverse.

By the time Gilas faced Georgia, the latter already had the chance to scout Gilas and the triangle. Still, Georgia could not find the key to break the triangle. And despite winning by two, the win was inconsequential as Gilas had clinched the semis spot with the margin of victory not enough to overcome the Philippines’ advantage.

At this time, Brazil and Cameroon and even Latvia would have assigned their assistants to break the mystery of the triangle before they face Gilas. At this point in the tournament, Cone would have expected the scouts to have done their job.

The triangle, however, is such a complex system. You have to know it by heart to be able to apply the system and pass it on to your players. It takes time to be a master of the triangle which has plenty of variations. That means it will also take time to map out a strategy to defend it.

The Bulls built a dynasty with the triangle and won sis championships.

Then it was the Lakers’ turn to benefit from the triangle and won 5 championships with it in the post-MJ era.

The common denominator is a coach and his assistant who have mastered the system. They literally infused their brains with the triangle offense. That tandem was Phil Jackson and his assistant Tex Winter.

The old-fashioned triangle was masterfully developed by Winter inspired by his coach at the University of Southern California, Hall of Fame coach Sam Barry whom he played under in the 1940s.

Winter carried it through to the Chicago Bulls and passed on to coach Doug Collins. The problem is, Collins rejected it and stuck to his isolation-heavy system with Michael Jordan at the core. Doug was kicked out as coach and in came Jackson who imbibed the Triangle.

Jackson and assistant coach Winter won 11 NBA Finals with the triangle offense. Jackson coached the Bulls from 1989–1998. He next served as the head coach of the Lakers twice, first from 1999–2004, and then from 2005–2011. The Chicago Bulls under Jackson won six championships in the 1990s playing in the triangle. His first three title-winning teams in Chicago featured superstars Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen. Jackson’s later three titles with the Bulls came with Jordan, Pippen, and Dennis Rodman. Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers won five championships employing the triangle. His first three Lakers championship squads fielded superstars Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant, while his last two title teams saw him pair Bryant with fellow All-Star Pau Gasol.

With Cone exposing European teams’ apparent weakness with the triangle, will USA Basketball start thinking of adopting the blueprint?

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