Thirdy Ravena extra warm body for Gilas
MANILA, Philippines — Thirdy Ravena is among Gilas players flying out of Manila today while Andray Blatche travels to Doha from China, giving coach Yeng Guiao an extra warm body for any eventuality in their last hurrah in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.
Guiao has 13 players to choose from for their game against Qatar Thursday night in Doha. Then R.R. Pogoy – serving out his five-game FIBA suspension in the Phl-Qatar game – will already be free to join the Nationals as they play Kazakhstan three nights later in Astana.
San Miguel Beer Fil-German center/forward Christian Standhardinger is spared of trouble since he’s just a backup to Blatche who’s confirmed to play both games in the FIBAWC final window.
The Gilas delegation leaves Manila at 9:30 a.m. via a 10-hour direct flight to Doha, optimistic to accomplish the task to salvage a berth in the 2019 world joust set in eight major cities of China.
On the eve of their departure, the Nationals played a lone tune-up match against the Meralco Bolts, and fashioned out a 100-82 rout.
Guiao was satisfied on what he saw in the game where Team Phl was paced by Pogoy with 21 points then Marcio Lassiter, June Mar Fajardo and Troy Rosario with their own double-digit outputs.
“At least, even without Andray, the guys are blending well. We played good defense and I hope it can translate to our games,” said Guiao.
Ravena, the lone addition to the earlier 14-man pool named by the national cage federation, contributed five points. He has had a previous stint in an international tourney last year, showing good stuff with the Ateneo Blue Eagles in the 2018 Jones Cup.
Paul Lee rested his banged-up knees, but he’s expected to be ready for the window proper.
For the Qatar game, tipped to form the national lineup are Blatche, Lee, Lassiter, Fajardo, Rosario, Poy Erram, Raymond Almazan, Japeth Aguilar, Gabe Norwood, Scottie Thompson, Mark Barroca and Jayson Castro.
They will have their full practice with complete players when they arrive in the Qatar capital.
Guiao intends to hold twice-a-day sessions from Sunday to Wednesday.
In their game against the Bolts, Pogoy fired two treys in an eight-to-nothing run as they opened a 55-45 lead at the half.
Then a bigger unanswered run in the third period had Gilas breaking the game wide open at 83-59.