6 p.m. – Philippines vs Myanmar
KUALA LUMPUR – The Gilas cadet team barely pulled off an escape act versus Thailand Sunday, but the Nationals nonetheless hope the opening-day triumph serves as springboard for better showings in their succeeding games in the 29th SEA Games.
They brace for a battle against the host team Wednesday as they take on lowly Myanmar at 6 p.m. Tuesday night at the MABA Gymnasium.
The Myanmar match will likely be a breeze, but the Nationals will come out for a serious work, trying to polish their game in preparation for their game against the hosts and for the medal matches.
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A growing concern for Gilas is how to break the zone defense.
“We have to find a way to break it,” said Gilas skipper Kiefer Ravena.
“(Against Thailand) every team in the competition just saw how you could try to beat the Philippines. Just sit on the zone and wait for them to miss,” Ravena pointed out.
“That’s how we’re beat by Korea in the Jones Cup. Good thing, we’re able to make six (triples against Thailand) compared to one that we made against the Koreans,” added Ravena, recalling their hard struggle against the Korean zone in their Jones Cup matchup.
With their good scouting report, the Thais stuck with the zone and nearly pulled an upset against the 11-time defending SEAG champion Team Philippines.
The Filipinos made only 6-of-30 3-pointers facing tremendous pressure from the Thais’ swarming defense. Buckets inside the paint at the finish enabled Gilas to grind out an 81-74 triumph.
The addition of another extra shooter in their succeeding games could well help Gilas ease the pressure.
It’s either Mac Belo or Carl Bryan Cruz.
Gilas played with a mere 11-man rotation Sunday as the organizers deferred decision on Team Philippine’s request for Belo to be allowed to replace Cruz.
SBP deputy executive director Bernie Atienza is hopeful Belo will be allowed to play in their next games. If not, Cruz joins Christian Standhardinger in doing another duty to the Philippine team after their FIBA Asia Cup stint in Beirut.