GILAS-Pilipinas faces Kazakhstan in its final tuneup tonight for the 27th Fiba Asia Championship hoping to rebuild its confidence after a poor exhibition game against a hastily formed Philippine Basketball Association squad Wednesday night.
The 7 p.m. game sponsored by My Phone at Smart Araneta Coliseum could be a face-saving occasion for the national men’s basketball team, which coach Chot Reyes criticized for its mediocre and “super terrible” performance against their fellow stars in the pro league.
“I wasn’t anxious, I was absolutely pissed,” said Reyes after the Nationals fought an uphill battle for three quarters against the PBA selection before Gabe Norwood, Jimmy Alapag and June Mar Fajardo bailed them out.
Now they have a chance to set things right against Kazakhstan, the toughest team from Central Asia and a possible foe in the crossover quarterfinals of the Asian championship set on Aug.1 to 11 at MOA Arena in Pasay.
“We have one more game against Kazakhstan to shape up,” said a fuming Reyes. “I really hope we play better because that game isn’t going to get us anywhere in Fiba Asia.
“I mean, there’s no excuses. This team just completely disappointed me. I hope things would be different (today).”
Kazakhstan, which is bracketed in Group D, will be led by an NBA material in center Anton Ponomarev plus a naturalized forward in Jerry Johnson.
“It was definitely our worst game since the team was formed,” said LA Tenorio, a vital cog in the rotation of Gilas, which is coming off a six-game training trip in New Zealand.
The Filipinos are in Group A and will not face the Kazakhs in the group stages of the tournament which rewards the top three finishers with slots in the Fiba world tilt in Spain next year.