Short Gilas opens vs tall Chinese

By: Inquirer August 08,2017 - 10:22 PM

A Gilas Pilipinas side that is definitely wanting in size gets its Fiba Asia Cup bid going, clashing with defending titlist China Wednesday at Mouhad Nawfai Stadium in Beirut, Lebanon.

With Andray Blatche refusing to go and June Mar Fajardo injured, the Filipinos are the definite underdogs in their 6:30 p.m. (Manila time) clash with the Chinese, who had taken just four players from their team that played in the 2016 Rio Oympics but still loom as one of the teams to beat in the tournament.

Christian Standhardinger has taken over the place of Blatche on short notice, and there will be a lot that the 6-foot-8 Filipino-German would need to do in order to make Gilas competitive in the continental championship.

The Philippines finished second in the last two editions of the Fiba Asia, the first happening in 2013 in Manila and two years ago in Changsha, Hunan province in China.

Iran won the 2013 event, while the Chinese literally maximized homecourt edge two years later to beat the Filipinos in a close contest.

In China, all sorts of things happened – like the Gilas team bus losing its way to the playing venue with a local driver and the Philippines failing to get the right warm up time because the goal during the shootaround malfunctioned – that gave the hosts some sort of advantage.

Coach Chot Reyes doesn’t want his players to be thinking about that for this game, but “it’s human nature,” as he was quoted by TV5 on Tuesday.
Those are all things of the past, and Reyes wants his team to focus on the task at hand.

“I’ve always believed that the best way to prepare for a game is to completely be in the present,” Reyes said in the report. “It’s the now that’s going to be important.”

Speed is what the Filipinos hope to use to offset China’s advantage in size, with Gilas having a fleet footed backcourt led by Jason Castro and Terrence Romeo.

Save for the absence of Blatche and Fajardo, the Philippines is being represented by possibly the best team it could cull, unlike the Chinese and Iran, who are saving their best players for the World Cup Qualifying starting in November.

Gilas and China are bracketed together with Iraq and Qatar in Group B.

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TAGS: Chinese, Gilas, opens, short, tall

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