By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
Senior Reporter
THE Philippine national men’s basketball team left for Taiwan on Monday to gear for its key encounter with the host country in the third window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on June 29.
Sitting at second and third spots, respectively, in Group B of the competition, Gilas Pilipinas (3-1) and Chinese Taipei (1-3) look to book the victory in their Friday matchup to boost their cause moving forward.
Australia leads the grouping with a 4-0 record and Japan (0-4) still winless.
Bannering the Philippines’ campaign in Taiwan is a 15-man pool to be handled by national team coach Chot Reyes.
The players are Philippine Basketball Association stalwarts Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Baser Amer, Jio Jalalon, Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy, Calvin Abueva, Troy Rosario, June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood and Carl Bryan Cruz.
Also included in pool are naturalized player Andray Blatche and Gilas Cadet member Troy Rike.
In their first game in the Qualifiers in November last year, Gilas defeated the Taiwanese, 90-83, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippines struggled to find form in the early goings of said game but managed to step up down the stretch to hack out the win, its second after defeating Japan in the previous game.
Mr. Castro led the way with 20 points followed by June Mar Fajardo with 17 points.
Messrs. Pogoy and Wright each had 11.
Mr. Blatche only had six points but had 14 rebounds, five blocks and three assists.
On the part of Chinese Taipei it was Quincy Davis III who showed the way with 20 points and nine rebounds with Yi-Hsiang Chou and Jhen Huang adding 17 and 16 points, respectively.
“We had a hard time beating them (Taiwanese) in Manila, and this time it will be harder because they have home court. We just have to be ready and have to be more aware of the mistakes we made when we last played them,” said Mr. Pogoy in the lead-up to the third window of the Qualifiers.
The Gilas Pilipinas-Chinese Taipei game will be played at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium.
It will be shown live on ESPN5 with livestream on