Philippines not taking shorthanded Qatar lightly
Gilas Pilipinas guards Alex Cabagnot and Matthew Wright said the Philippines can’t let its guard down against an ailing Qatar side on Monday night in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
The Qataris won’t be having four of their key players, including naturalized forward Trey Johnson, due to injuries, but Cabagnot and Wright know the team still can’t afford to play below par.
“We’re treating everybody, we’re scouting everybody as how they should be. They should be respected,” Cabagnot told reporters Sunday on the eve of the Philippines’ closed-door duel at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“That’s not our problem. We’re gonna focus on whoever is going to be in their lineup. We know that there’s some pretty significant players that are injured who are not on the lineup but we can’t soften up or lessen our intensity just because of that,” Wright, who is making his return after serving a one-game suspension, said.
Johnson and company were also sidelined against Australia on Thursday where Qatar absorbed a 95-43 whipping in Doha.
“They’re the best of Qatar. Just because the four guys are not playing, it doesn’t mean the next guys coming in for them or playing more minutes for them are not capable of doing what the four guys are doing,” said Cabagnot.
The slew of injuries have left Qatar no choice but to field in a young and inexperienced core and even force one of its veterans in Yasseen Musa to come out of retirement.
The Qataris’ tough predicament, however, aren’t out to make excuses despite the tough predicament that they’re in.
“We have a lot of young guys, new players so we don’t know how the game is gonna be but we are ready to play,” said the 38-year-old Musa, who called it quits after helping Qatar finish sixth in the 2013 Fiba Asia Championship in Manila.
Still, Gilas can’t afford to take its opponent lightly especially with the Nationals coming off an 81-73 loss to Iran on Thursday in Tehran.
“There’s gonna be guys who come and step up in their absences so we have to treat this game like it’s do-or-die,” Wright said.