Credit to Author: Tempo Online| Date: Sat, 23 Feb 2019 17:00:54 +0000
by Waylon Galvez
ASTANA, Kazakhstan – Gilas Pilipinas coach Yeng Guiao gave the national team players an extra time to rest Saturday following a long flight from Doha, Qatar to this capital city.
The Nationals need it very badly – they need to conserve their energy in what could be the biggest battle as they go up against the Kazakhs at 8:30 p.m. (10:30 p.m. Manila time.
Gilas targets another victory for a spot to this year’s FIBA World Cup in China against a team that inflicted the Nationals a stunning defeat last November.
“That’s what we’re here for, to get another win. We already did a good job in our game against Qatar, now our focus is on Kazakhstan,” said Guiao upon arrival of the national team at the Radisson Hotel.
It’s a make or break game for the Philippines in its bid to make it to the FIBA World Cup in China.
The last time that two teams met, Kazakhstan emerged a surprise 92-88 winner – thanks to the red-hot shooting of Alexandr Zhigulin.
Zhigulin scored 30 points on 6-of-12 three-point shooting at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
The Philippine contingent, together with the PBA delegation, took a 19-hour flight from Doha to Astana, which included an eight-hour layover at the Istanbul Ataturk Airport in Turkey.
The squad also spent nearly two hours to get the VISA at the Nursultan Nazarbayez International Airport immigration since the Kazakhstan Basketball Federation gave no assistance upon arrival.
“It could have saved some time for the players, probably gave them extra time to rest,” said Guiao, who pushed his practice session from 5 p.m. here – 7 p.m. Saturday in Manila – to 8:30 p.m.
At the moment, the national team is still at fourth spot with a 6-4 record in Group F behind Australia (10-1) after the ‘Boomers’ edged the Kazakhs, 81-60, last Thursday, while Japan and Iran are now tied for second and third at 7-4 after the Japanese edged the Iranians in Tehran, 97-89.
In Group E, New Zealand leads all teams with a 10-1 card, followed by South Korea with an 9-2 record, while Jordan, China and Lebanon are tied at 6-4, the same card the Filipinos carry.
The top three teams from each group get outright spots in the FIBA World Cup, while China – as the host – is automatically qualified. The ‘fourth best’ team in both groups based on their respective records after the elimination round gets the last slot for Asia in the World Cup.
Prior to the Philippines-Kazakhstan game, Jordan tackles New Zealand first, while Lebanon faces South Korea. Jordan is also fresh from an inspiring 86-62 win against China, while Lebanon lost to New Zealand, 69-67.
Guiao said that the important thing is to win.
“We know the situation, even before coming to Doha to play Qatar, and with this encounter with Kazakhstan, everybody knows that we have to get two wins to get a chance to earn a spot,” said Guiao.
“That’s what we intend to do. Half of that has already been accomplished, now our focus is on getting that victory against Kazakhstan. It’s going to be tough but the last win we had gives me confidence that we can get the job done here, and hopefully earn us a ticket to the World Cup,” added Guiao.
In its loss to Australia, Zhugilin was held to only four points, but Kazakhstan’s naturalized player Anthony Clemmons – an American who got his papers approved by FIBA last December – finished with 30 points.
The national team, on the other hand, will continue to rely on its own naturalized Andray Blatche, who collected 17 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists in the Gilas win over Qatar – his first game back with the national team.
Guiao has yet to finalize his roster for the Kazakhstan game since he now has a complete 14-man team with RR Pogoy now available to play after serving a 5-game suspension handed by FIBA for his role in the fracas against Australia last July in Bulacan.