Gilas five needs pluck
A huge number of OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers) celebrated with Gilas Pilipinas on Sunday night after the Filipinos topped Group B in the Fiba Asia Cup and advanced to the quarterfinals outright.
But coach Chot Reyes was quick to remind his gung-ho wards that the way they played in a narrow 80-74 win over rugged Qatar won’t be enough to get the job done when they clash with either Japan or South Korea in the win-or-go home stage on Wednesday night.
“You all know that had we played Korea or Japan tonight, we would be headed home,” Reyes told his players after they blew a 17-point lead and had to withstand a furious finish by the Qataris behind guard Mansour Elhadary.
“No way we’ll win like that,” Reyes was quoted in a story sent by the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, which is providing details of Gilas games as no Philippine-based publication managed to beat Lebanon’s visa deadline on time.
Using speed yet again to win a third straight game and playing without big men Christian Standhardinger and June Mar Fajardo, Gilas took command early but then had a cold spell in the fourth quarter, allowing the Qataris to come dangerously close.
Matthew Wright and Terrence Romeo quelled the last of the Iraqi uprisings with timely hits from the outside. Wright finished with 25 points built around seven triples, while Romeo made his only two field goals of the night inside the final three minutes.
Standhardinger is expected to play despite an aching shoulder on Wednesday, when the Filipinos battle the winner of the Korea-Japan match, which was being played at press time on Monday, according to a report by TV5’s Jutt Sulit.
“No matter what, pain or no pain, I will play on Wednesday when it really counts,” said the 6-foot-8 Filipino-German, who sat out his first game in two tournaments with Gilas because of a severe stiff neck and sore shoulder.
Standhardinger, who is averaging 15.5 points and 6.5 rebounds, said that the injury occurred after a rugged win over Iraq, when “somebody hit me in the back and I heard it pop.”
The Koreans have a history of inflicting heart-rending defeats on the Filipinos and actually own a win the last time the two countries met, in the Jones Cup in Taipei, recently.
In that game, the Philippines made just 1-of-26 from three-point distance in an 83-72 defeat that took the Filipinos out of the title hunt.
Gilas didn’t shoot that bad against Qatar, but it had 17 turnovers and couldn’t play solid-enough defense as Elhadary got away with 23 points and almost won it by himself for his team in the endgame.
Meanwhile, the Philippine Basketball Association is now accepting applications for the 2017 Rookie Draft, slated Oct. 29 at Robinsons Place Manila in Ermita.
The Commissioner’s Office set the deadline for submission of applications and requirements for half-Filipino players on Sept. 1.
Local-born aspirants have until Oct. 12 to apply.
After a preliminary list of rookie hopefuls with foreign blood is released, there will be a month-long period to contest an applicant’s eligibility.
Rickie Santos, deputy commissioner for basketball operations, said the Draft Combine— which serves as a test to determine the skill set and physical and abilities of the players— will be scheduled on Oct. 23 to 26, with the venues still to be finalized.
The final list of candidates for the Rookie Draft will be known Oct. 27.
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