GILAS PILIPINAS OUT TO EASE OLD WUHAN PAIN
One of the Philippines’ losses that still rankles the Filipinos’ hearts and minds was Gilas Pilipinas’ downfall while inch away from the gold-medal game in the 26th FIBA Asia Championship in Wuhan, China.
Coach Chot Reyes and his troops have got in their hands the chance to soothe the nation’s feeling over that sad Wuhan experience in playing Jordan in Day Two of the 27th Asian joust at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City Friday.
It would be Black Friday if the Nationals fail to accomplish the mission.
But Reyes has been saying they prepared hard for Jordan that Gilas Pilipinas is only expected to score a follow-up on its triumphant opening game versus Saudi Arabia and automatically book a seat in the second round of the preliminary stage.
Reyes said they didn’t get their desired game against Saudi as the team had Jordan in mind.
“It’s difficult to coach coming into this ballgame while managing for tomorrow’s game. We made sure to distribute the minutes as we need to be fresh against Jordan. The real battle is tomorrow,” said Reyes moments after the Gilas Pilipinas-Jordan game.
Spreading the minutes to all players, Gilas Pilipinas took eternity to put Saudi Arabia away.
In the end, Gilas Pilipinas overcame the Saudi side that won’t give up, hacking out a 78-66 win while Jordan dropped its opening game versus the vastly improved Chinese Taipei team, 87-91.
The Filipinos and the Taiwanese seek outright passage into the next phase of the world cup qualifier in battling the Jordanians and the Saudis respectively in Group A plays Friday.
The host team and Jordan face off at 8:30 p.m. while Chinese Taipei and Saudi Arabia square off at 1:15 p.m.
Other MOA Arena matches pit China versus Malaysia at 11 a.m., Japan against Hong Kong at 3:30 p.m., Korea opposite Iran at 5:45 p.m. and Thailand versus India at 10:30 p.m.
The Koreans and the Iranians, fashioning out contrasting wins over the Chinese and the Malaysians respectively Thursday, slug it out for win No. 2 in Group C.
The lone match at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium in Manila features Kazakhstan versus Bahrain, fighting for solo lead in Group D.
Of course for the home crowd, the Gilas-Jordan pairing is the biggest game to watch.
The Jordanians expect a tough challenge.
“It will be a very, very strong team for us,” said Jordan coach Evangelos Alexandris through an interpreter. “Philippines is really a good team. This team will have the crowd supporting them. It will be difficult.”
Alexandris has at his disposal a team that paled in comparison to the old Jordan team featuring Sam Daghles, Zaid Abbas and naturalized player Rasheim Wright. (SB)
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