By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

Gilas Pilipinas begins FIBA Asia Cup bid today

Posted on August 09, 2017

GILAS Pilipinas sets its 2017 FIBA Asia Cup bid into motion in Beirut, Lebanon, today as it takes on China in its opening game in Group B of the continental basketball championship tournament.

Jayson Castro leads Gilas Pilipinas anew in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon. -- FIBA ASIA CUP WEB SITE
Happening from Aug. 8-20, the Asia Cup, formerly known as the FIBA Asia Championship, will see the Philippines, bannered by stalwarts from the Philippine Basketball Association, begin its campaign in what many consider as the “Group of Death,” along with China, Qatar and Iraq.

Tournament format calls for the competing teams from each of the four groupings to finish in the top three in their respective groups to advance to the next round.

The second and third teams in their respective groups play in the qualifications to the quarterfinals of the final round, while the group winners automatically qualify to the quarterfinals proper.

Comprising Gilas Pilipinas are a mix of seniors and cadet pool members, namely, Terrence Romeo (GlobalPort Batang Pier), Carl Bryan Cruz (Alaska Aces), Gabe Norwood and Raymond Almazan (Rain or Shine), Jio Jalalon (Star Hotshots), Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy (TNT KaTropa), Calvin Abueva (Alaska Aces), June Mar Fajardo (San Miguel Beermen), Japeth Aguilar (Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings), Matthew Wright (Phoenix) and Christian Standhardinger. Head coach of the team is Chot Reyes.

Gilas will play China today at 6:30 p.m. (Manila time) at the Nouhad Nawfal Gymnasium in Beirut; Iraq on Aug. 11 at 9 p.m.; and Qatar on Aug. 13 at 9 p.m.

While the Philippines will have it rough right at the onset, local basketball analyst Levi Verora, Jr. believes it will be a good chance for Gilas Pilipinas to test itself and see where it stacks up in its preparation for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers later this year.

“Technically this tournament is no-bearing for Gilas since we are already qualified for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers. We may end up as the best in Asia Pacific after this but it does not guarantee we will make it to the 2019 FIBA World Cup. Nonetheless, this is still a good opportunity for the team to scout our opponents in the WCQ and see where it stands as it moves along with its preparation,” said Mr. Verora, who writes for SLAM Philippines and covers games of the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL), when asked by BusinessWorld for his thoughts on the Gilas team competing in Lebanon.

“Our roster is a good mix of cadet and senior players. I would not say that this is better than the one which saw action in the Southeast Asian Basketball Championship (SEABA) that was held here early this year with Andray Blatche in tow but I think they will be competitive,” the analyst added.

Mr. Verora further said that the FIBA Asia Cup will help develop the game of Gilas, particularly the young guys, as it gears up for bigger battles ahead.

As for the chances of the team in the just-commenced tournament, Mr. Verora said a quarterfinal spot is not farfetched for Gilas.

“I’m wait-and-see to how far Gilas can go in the FIBA Asia Cup but I believe the team can make it to the quarterfinals. I do hope it goes deep in the tournament,” he said.

Today’s game against China will be shown live over TV5 and AksyonTV and livestreaming at