Tuesday thoughts for Gilas Pilipinas in Monday win over Qatar
The Philippines finished off Qatar early in a game on Monday night, with its eye already on Tuesday.
The Filipinos used a 15-0 run in the first quarter and played consistently with the same zest all throughout an 80-41 rout of the Qataris in Asian Games men’s basketball at Zhejiang University Gymnasium in Hangzhou, China, that was part of their preparation for the game that matters most at this stage.
The Philippines battles powerhouse Iran in the quarterfinals at 12 noon on Tuesday.
Before the game, Cone had told the Inquirer that the team was confident against Qatar, but that “Iran will pose a stiffer roadblock.”
The Philippines got a chance to polish whatever cracks were exposed in a loss to Jordan two nights ago and give its seldom-used players valuable playing time for the severe test ahead.
June Mar Fajardo and CJ Perez had 12 points each to lead the way for the Filipinos, who used the second half of the blowout as a practice session for Tuesday’s battle.
Calvin Oftana had 11 points while naturalized ace Justin Brownlee chipped in eight more, as Cone and his brain trust shelved the team’s A-listers early to ensure their fitness against the well-rested Iranians.
Offensive momentumIran will be flaunting a squad littered with old and new faces, their mettle seemingly unchanged having blown out Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan and the United Arab Emirates for a winning margin of 21.6 points.
The Nationals, however, will have some offensive momentum on their side, having shot 32 of its 63 shots from the field, or 51 percent—their finest showing so far in the Asian Games. Vastly contributing to that improved shooting were Oftana, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino and Ange Kouame, who were hardly felt in the blowout at the hands of Jordan.
A win by the Filipinos on Tuesday will send the Philippines into the Final Four, where it could meet host China, whom a different set of Nationals beat for its lone victory in the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup last month. INQ