THE Philippine men’s national basketball team is deep in its preparation for the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers, trying to cover all bases to allow it to get a favorable result come the two-game stretch beginning later this week.
Gilas Pilipinas, now under coach Yeng Guiao, is coming off a series of tune-up games last week against international teams to get it ready for the next window of the qualifiers.
The nationals went 1-3 in matches against teams from Jordan and Lebanon.
But while the record was not as impressive as hoped, Mr. Guiao said they are really not worried as much, viewing the tune-up games as a way of preparing them to have the best possible team in the games that really matter.
“We wanted to win more matches but what’s more important is the learnings we had in the series. That is the luxury of having tune-ups as we can see what needs to be done,” said Mr. Guiao, which is now tasked to lead Gilas for the rest of the World Cup Qualifiers, taking over from erstwhile coach Chot Reyes.
“We have a lot of work to do in the next coming days in the lead-up to our first game. We have to put together all the learnings in this series of tune-up games and try to incorporate them in the games that matter against Kazakhstan and Iran,” he added.
Mr. Guiao said the series of tune-up matches had allowed the coaching staff to have an idea on who will make up the final 12, which he said will be announced either Wednesday or Thursday.
“We have already an idea on who will make up the final 12 but we will not announce it yet,” said Mr. Guiao, who also underscored the need for his team to get used to the physicality of the games in the qualifiers, especially the big men.
For the fifth window, Gilas Pilipinas assembled a pool of 20 players, mostly from the Philippine Basketball Association, to choose from.
The players are June Mar Fajardo, Greg Slaughter, Christian Standhardinger, Stanley Pringle, Scottie Thompson, Matthew Wright, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, JP Erram, Gabe Norwood, Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Beau Belga, Japeth Aguilar, Arwind Santos, LA Tenorio, Ricci Rivero, and Kai Sotto.
The Philippines is currently at third place in the merged Group F of the qualifiers with a 5-3 record, behind group leader Australia (7-1) and Iran (6-2).
Gilas Pilipinas battles Kazakhstan on Friday, Nov. 30, and then Iran on Dec. 3. Both matches are to be held at the Mall of Asia Arena. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo