Gilas battles Kazakhs in FIBA WC qualifier
The Nationals and the Kazakhs clash at 7:30 p.m. with the home team looking for a big win to build momentum for what could well be a tough match versus Team Iran on Monday in the same Pasay City playing venue.File
MANILA, Philippines — Almost unscathed at home turf, Gilas Pilipinas seeks another proud stand before the home fans, eyeing a repeat of its Asiad conquest of Kazakhstan in a bid to boost its FIBA World Cup qualifying drive at the MOA Arena tonight.
The Nationals and the Kazakhs clash at 7:30 p.m. with the home team looking for a big win to build momentum for what could well be a tough match versus Team Iran on Monday in the same Pasay City playing venue.
Team Phl is definitely the favorite versus Kazakhstan, with coach Yeng Guiao having at his disposal more lethal weapons than the ones he used in a 96-59 demolition of the Kazakhs in their match in the Asian Games in Jakarta in August.
Seven-foot-1 behemoth Greg Slaughter dons the national colors for the first time since the 2010 Guangzhou Asiad and forms a tall frontline with June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and Poy Erram.
LA Tenorio, meanwhile, comes back from retirement in international play and provides extra firepower, savvy and leadership in the backcourt with Stanley Pringle, Alex Cabagnot and Scottie Thompson.
Guiao would not lack weapons in wing spots with Gabe Norwood, Marcio Lassiter, Matthew Wright and Beau Belga.
Pringle, Norwood, Belga, Erram, Christian Standhardinger, James Yap, Paul Lee, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, Asi Taulava and Maverick Ahanmisi made the 11-man team that completely outclassed Kazakhstan in the Jakarta Asiad. Jordan Clarkson didn’t make the games in time to play against the Kazakhs.
From the Asian Games, the Nationals repulsed the Qataris, 92-81, in their home game in the FIBA Asia qualifiers. Gilas is 3-1 overall at home.
But the Nationals are not leaving any stone unturned as they play the Kazakhs in a rematch.
“Nagulat natin sila sa Asian Games but this would be a different game,” said Guiao.
“This team has the height, good shooters and they’re rugged. They had a bad night in the Asian Games and we’re lucky. They’ll be more ready and determined Friday,” Guiao added.
Going up against the Kazakhs, Guiao is also mindful of the Iranians.
The Phl quintet must sweep both games if it’s to stay ahead of the surging Japanese team in Group F play. Going into the fifth and penultimate window of the WC qualifiers, Australia is on top at 7-1, followed by Iran (6-2), the Philippines (5-3), Japan (4-4), Kazakhstan (3-5) and Qatar (2-6).
For the fifth window, Japan also plays home games against Qatar then Kazakhstan.
Guiao is well aware Iran has been a pesky problem for the Philippines for over a decade now.
“We always have a problem with Iran because they have the size, they have an NBA player and have been together for really a long time. Tayo halos two weeks together lang,” said Guiao.