Carl Tamayo injury a concern as Gilas Pilipinas battles India
MANILA, Philippines–The Philippines is looking to assert its mastery over India when the two nations collide in the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers here on Sunday afternoon.
Gilas picked the visitors apart with methodical precision, 88-64, during their previous meeting here back in February, but that result is shaping up as a thing of the past as the Nationals—already without big man Ange Kouame—could see action with just 10 men.
Chot Reyes, the national cage program’s director, said there’s no certainty on the status on whether Carl Tamayo could suit up for the 4 p.m. contest at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
“Game-time decision. But he practiced today. Although it was only a light practice,” he told the Inquirer in a short exchange.
Tamayo was one of the few bright spots in the Philippines’ 106-60 loss to New Zealand in their second meeting held in Auckland just three nights ago.
The 6-foot-7 versatile forward out of the University of the Philippines had 16 points and five rebounds before hurting his ankle early in the final frame.
Tamayo’s health situation explained Nenad Vucinic’s cautious outlook.
“India’s going to be tough opposition. Maybe not (the same level with Tall Blacks), but they (Indians) have experience and size as well,” he said after the beatdown at Eventfinda Stadium.
A Tamayo shelving leaves Gilas with just two players taller than 6-foot-5: Francis Lopez and Geo Chiu. And there’s no guarantee Tamayo’s presene will help that ceiling problem.
“If he does recover and puts a jersey on, he’s probably not gonna be as effective as he would be without an injury. So other players need to be stepping up,” he said.
Gilas was only 33.9 percent from the field against the Tall Blacks’ 50 percent clip. The Nationals also nearly had twice as many as turnovers, 19-10.
Sunday’s game should prompt Dwight Ramos to play in a splendid way. He was, after all, the star of that first victory against India, finishing with 17 points, four rebounds, and three assists.
Reyes, for his part, feels that this bind will help expedite the young turks’ growth—just exactly what the cage program needs for the 2023 World Cup which will be in multiple sites here and in Japan as well as Indonesia.
“Our young ones need to get used to playing quality competition,” Reyes said. “That is just going to help them and prepare them for the bigger task at hand.”
Vucinic acknowledges the tough trek ahead but is optimistic that 10-man or not, Gilas will prove to be a capable bunch come game time.
“It’s gonna be, again, difficult for us but we cannot play the way we played (Thursday night). I’m sure we’ll come up with a much better performance on Sunday,” he said.