Gilas Pilipinas games down to two with South Korea out
MANILA, Philippines–From playing four games and getting much needed experience for tougher matches ahead, Gilas Pilipinas now stands to play just half of that this weekend after South Korea withdrew from the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifier window because of a COVID-19 outbreak in its national team.
Left are one match each against regional power New Zealand and lanky India, even as the Fiba still has to make an official announcement regarding this development.
Not only has Philippines vs Korea been a storied regional rivalry, but playing the Koreans in two meaningful games on home turf would have given Gilas coaching staff the chance to sort of gauge how ready the Filipinos are at this stage, just over a year before cohosting the World Cup with Indonesia and Japan.
“Obviously, it throws a monkey wrench in our preparations because we have been preparing for Korea,” Gilas coach Chot Reyes said in a post on Instagram. “But having said that, we’d like to think that we’ve [built] this team on versatility. Agility is one of the first things we talked about on the very first day of practice for we really have to be prepared for whatever comes.
“What we’ve learned in this environment that we’re playing in now is that you can never really know what to expect,” he went on. “And this (Korea withdrawal) is one such thing.”
The Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas also has yet to make an announcement, and queries made by the Inquirer haven’t been answered at press time.
It was reported a couple of days back that the Koreans were only going to send a 10-man roster for the window, with naturalized player Ricardo Ratliffe out because he was one of the six initially infected by the virus.
On Tuesday, the Korea Basketball Association (KBA) made the announcement that it was withdrawing its national team because one of the remaining players tested positive on Monday, potentially infecting the rest of the roster.
The squad was supposed to depart for the Philippines on Tuesday.
It is also unclear whether Fiba will sanction the KBA for this, or if the KBA can send a club squad to represent their country and not leave the schedule hanging.
The first of those two games was originally scheduled for Thursday and the second on Monday. The Filipinos will face the Kiwis on Friday and India on Sunday.