Gilas Pilipinas faces Japan today Game Today

By: Inquirer November 23,2017 - 10:21 PM

Gilas Pilipinas takes the first step in its bid to return to the World Cup tonight, clashing with Japan in Tokyo with a roster coach Chot Reyes feels is suited to defeat the Japanese on the road.

After close to three weeks of hard work, Reyes made the final three cuts on his 15-man pool, basically sticking out with tested veterans led by Jason Castro at the guard spot, Japeth Aguilar at forward and naturalized center Andray Blatche and June Mar Fajardo in the middle.

Reyes put Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo and the injured Raymund Almazan in the freezer for this match, but reiterated that the Gilas roster could change when the Filipinos battle Chinese Taipei at home on Monday.

“Basically, we took into account the team that we are playing (today),” Reyes said after revealing the final roster. “And we also took into account our health and injury situation.”

The 6-foot-7 Almazan still has a swollen ankle, and could be available for the Taiwanese.

“I spoke to the three of them and they took it very professionally and very well,” Reyes added. “This is just the 12-man roster for tomorrow’s game. For Taiwan, it would be different. Every game could change.”

Kevin Alas will be the third point guard at Reyes’ disposal after Castro and Kiefer Ravena, with Calvin Abueva, RR Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi and Troy Rosario making up the rest of the team.

Team Philippines has had a long record of success against the Japanese, with its last loss to Team Nippon happening in 2004 in the Fiba Asia Challenge, where the Filipinos lost by 60 points.

Japan has thrown in everything against the Philippines of late, including playing NBA veteran Yuta Tabuse, to no avail, and will be bannered by naturalized forward Ira Brown in the 7 p.m. (6 p.m. in Manila) game.

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