Gilas-China knockout duel loomsBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
LIKE Filipino reporters who can talk to Gilas Pilipinas coaching staff in confidence and not let anything out, it seems like Chinese media know that both countries are headed to a collision course in the 27th Fiba Asia Championship quarterfinals.
The Inquirer joked around with a Chinese lady photographer covering the games yesterday, telling her to not let Yi Jianlian play their remaining games anymore and just let a slightly pulled hamstring and a hurting groin heal.
“Why, will Philippines win if Yi doesn’t play?” the smiling photo journalist answered back inside the busy press room of Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
Yi is the foremost star in the Chinese roster, the last man from the Mainland to see significant action in the National Basketball Association and the one who strikes fear among all the countries in the 15-nation field.
“I think he will play,” said the lady photog.
With the final rankings in group plays yet to be determined, it seems that China has already picked an opponent it feels it can play well against in the knockout stages starting Friday.
And the Gilas coaching staff is bracing itself.
“It seems to be that way,” assistant coach Jong Uichico said. “Yes, he (Yi) will make a difference—if he plays or not.”