(Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex)
6:30 p.m. – Iraq vs China
9 p.m. – Gilas Pilipinas vs Qatar
11:30 p.m. – Iran vs Jordan
2 a.m. – Syria vs India
Christian Standhardinger and Carl Cruz, Gilas Pilipinas rookies both, can now bury ugly memories of the first time they got to play Iraq.
Standhardinger and Cruz locked horns with the rugged Iraqis just three weeks before in the Jones Cup Invitational in Taipei, with the 6-foot-7 Filipino-German getting mentions in the story for all the wrong reasons after losing his head and being taught a lesson by coach Chot Reyes.
Cruz, on the other hand, was playing the best game of his Gilas career only to ride the bench when the others were busy with the mop-up job of an 84-75 win, a penalty he earned after getting too macho for his own good.
Incidentally, Gilas goes for a sweep of its preliminary round assignment in the Fiba Asia Cup when it clashes with winless Qatar at 9 p.m. on Sunday at Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
Together with the amazing Terrence Romeo, Standhardinger and Cruz got payback in the sweetest way as they starred in a dizzying third quarter assault that put the Iraqis away, 84-68. That gave Gilas Pilipinas top seeding in Group B in the Fiba Asia Cup.
After finishing with 16 points – including 10 straight to open up the third quarter – Standhardinger had far better character than the Standhardinger that roughed up Dhulfigar Al-Hchaimi in the Jones Cup that resulted in his ejection and got him a tongue-lashing from Reyes infront of a huge crowd of OFWs at Taipei Peace Basketball Hall.
Cruz started the dirty plays in Taipei when he planted a forearm to the back of Navid Khajehzadeh’s head after biting to the Iraqi center’s fake under the basket.
Both apologized to the rest of the team after the match and their relationships with Reyes are now on more solid ground because of that.
Iraq was the same rugged, dirty team that Gilas faced on Friday night, but Standhardinger and Cruz kept their focus all game.
Cruz, as a matter of fact, finished with the best game of his young Gilas career after 11 points built around a 3-for-3 clip from beyond the arc, while helping the undersized Philippine frontline hold its own against the Iraqi giants.