Gilas wary of ‘cohesive’ all-pro Thais in Bahrain qualifiers
MANILA, Philippines — Chemistry is Gilas Pilipinas’ biggest worry ahead of the second window of the Fiba Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers in Manama, Bahrain.
Philippine team head coach Jong Uichico admitted that while Gilas won’t lack in talent against regional rival Thailand despite the absence of PBA players, the squad’s cohesion is a concern considering the Thais have been working with a familiar unit for quite some time now.
“They got some size. What’s tough about Thailand is that compared to us, compared to our Gilas team that is going, they’ve been playing together much longer because they’re a club team,” Uichico said in a recent appearance on Noli Eala’s Power and Play.
“We’ve faced them last year in the Southeast Asian Games and in the SEA Games in Malaysia so they’ve been together for so long, and they’ve improved through these years. They are a very cohesive, cohesive unit all these years,” Uichico, who was an assistant to Tim Cone in the 2019 SEA Games, added.
The Thais lost to a PBA-led Gilas team in the gold medal game in last year’s SEA Games in Manila after bagging the bronze in 2017.
Gilas plays Thailand, which is expected to field in an all-pro team, twice beginning Friday.
The Thais will again be led by Thai-American guard Tyler Lamb, who gave South Korea fits in the first window back in February.
Minus PBA mainstays, the Philippines turned to the young guns like Kobe Paras, Dave Ildefonso, Matt Nieto, and Juan Gomez De Liaño to make up its pool of players for the upcoming window.
Gilas trained in a bubble in Calamba, Laguna before leaving for Bahrain last Sunday.
The Philippines is coming off a 100-70 rout of Indonesia nine months ago before the pandemic while Thailand put up a good fight in a 93-86 loss to Korea in the February window.
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