Gilas’ tighter path to quarters goes through India
The way Chot Reyes put it, the only way for Gilas Pilipinas to improve is to face quality opposition.
“[T]hat’s the only way to learn, right? To play against superior talent,” he said on the heels of a 95-80 beatdown at the hands of Lebanon in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Asia Cup late Wednesday night in Jakarta, Indonesia.
But right now, the team’s slim chances of making it to the next round rests on a game against a lesser light.
The Philippines faces India on Friday, needing a victory against a squad it had routed twice before. This next game, however, will have much higher stakes.
“We have another chance, another opportunity to come back,” said veteran guard Kiefer Ravena after the Lebanon match. “Now our championship game is our next game—which is against India. So we have to prepare mentally, and physically for another grind-out game.”
Under the tournament format, the 16 teams are divided into four groups in the preliminary round. The four teams in each group play a single round robin, with the top team advancing straight to the quarterfinals. The second and third teams play a crossover matchup with the second and third teams in another group, with the winners also advancing to the Last 8.With the loss to Lebanon, the Philippines needs to beat India to leave the door open for passage to the next round. Gilas Pilipinas’ last assignment in the group phase is zone heavyweight New Zealand. As the No. 3 team of Group D, however, the Philippines could face Iran or Japan for a spot in the quarterfinals.
“The tournament is not over and we are going to fight until the end,” stretch big Carl Tamayo said.