Gilas PH squad underdog no more
Terrence Romeo’s name is starting to make the rounds on social media. Raymond Almazan, a Fiba Asia “rookie,” just saw his two dunks in the first half against China immortalized by the tournament as they made the top five plays of the day.
What difference a game makes.
Gilas Pilipinas entered the Fiba Asia under the shadow of uncertainty: Andray Blatche begged off from the team and June Mar Fajardo was struck off due to injury.
But after dismantling defending champion China, the Filipinos are suddenly under the spotlight.
And they will no longer be underdogs when they take the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex floor at 9 p.m. (Manila time) against Iraq, which made a huge lineup change by replacing naturalized player DeMario Mayfield.
This will give the Iraqis a slightly different look when they tangle with the Filipinos, who routed them in the Jones Cup, 84-75, in Taipei.
Iraq pulled Mayfield out of the lineup and went for Kevin Galloway, even if Mayfield was one of the best scorers in Taipei and drilled 29 points in that losing game against the Filipinos.
The Iraqis will also come into the game with some sort of momentum after tripping Qatar, 75-66, with Galloway shooting 16 points and plucking down eight rebounds.
The Philippines-Iraq game was one of the dirtiest in the Jones Cup. Christian Standhardinger and Carl Cruz, in fact, were thrown out of that game.
Coach Chot Reyes and his staff came over to Beirut knowing that Mayfield will be the naturalized player for Iraq, but now they will be having to deal with someone who is a lot taller and heftier in Galloway.
Galloway was originally replaced by Mayfield in the team, though the 26-year-old would have been a handful for the Gilas guards because of his athleticism and shiftiness.
The Filipinos close out first-round play against the Qataris on Sunday also at 9 p.m.
Meanwhile, Calvin Abueva apologized to the team immediately after the win over the Chinese as he played just over a minute and 30 seconds and was thrown out after head-butting Li Gen in the first quarter.
Gilas officials said that under Fiba rules, being thrown out does not mean an automatic suspension in the next game.
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