Gilas leaves for Tehran Monday

Gilas leaves for Tehran Monday

Yeng Guiao quickly hit the ground running when he first met with the 16-man Team Philippines pool at the Meralco Gym in Ortigas, Monday night, ahead of the second round hostitlites at the FIBA World Cup Asian qualifiers later this Photo/Denison Rey A. Dalupang

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas holds its last three days of training at home before leaving for Tehran late Monday to play Team Iran on September 13 at the start of its grind in the second round of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Head coach Yeng Guiao and team manager Butch Antonio lead a 25-man delegation, including the pool in consideration for Gilas’ two games in the September FIBA window versus Iran then against Qatar at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on September 17.

Gilas figures in home-and-away matches against Iran, Qatar and Kazakhstan in Round 2 of the World Cup eliminator, carrying over its 4-2 win-loss record from the first round.

The goal is to make the Top Three from Group F among Australia (5-1), Iran (5-1), the Philippines (4-2), Kazakhstan (3-3), Japan (2-4) and Qatar (2-4) for an automatic berth to the 2019 World Cup in China.

Guiao is happy with the pool at his disposal. He said the challenge is for him to get these PBA stars to blend and play good basketball together on their mere weeklong training.

Greg Slaughter, Marcio Lassiter, Alex Cabagnot, Scottie Thompson, Paul Lee and Gabe Norwood are expected to lead the Philippine roster against Iran and against Qatar.

The Philippines won its most recent games versus both teams.

The Nationals, bannered by Andray Blatche, topped the Hamed Haddadi-led Iran team, 87-73, in the second round of elimination phase in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship in Changsha.

Then minus Blatche in the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup, Team Philippines was paced by Matthew Wright (with 25 points) and Carl Bryan Cruz (13 markers) in repulsing Qatar, 80-74.

After a losing start in the World Cup qualifier, Iran has reemerged as a top contender on the return of lead guns Haddadi and Nikkhah Bahrami.

They topped their initial grouping in the World Cup eliminator then figured in a gold-medal game versus China in the recent Jakarta Asiad Games.

Qatar has been struggling from the first round of the World Cup qualifiers to its Asian Games stint where it failed to make it past the group plays after dropping matches against Japan and Chinese Taipei.