By Waylon Galvez
(Mall of Asia Arena, Pasay City)
7 p.m. – Gilas vs Kazakhstan
Nearly four months ago, Gilas Pilipinas cruised to an easy victory against Kazakhstan – thanks to its Big D.
The Nationals need more than playing tough defense if they are to beat the Kazakhs in tonight’s fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifiers today at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.
PH team coach Yeng Guiao formalized his 12-man roster last Wednesday in what he said was based on the players’ capability to play defense with consistency, particularly the three-point territory that Kazakhstan is goof at if given the open looks.
“It’s really our defense,” said Guiao, referring to the 96-59 blowout win of the Philippines against Kazakhstan in the Jakarta-Palembang Asian Games last August in Indonesia.
“We must at least have the same kind of energy that we showed in our game with Kazakhstan during the Asian Games. We were aggressive in trapping them, denying their shooters.”
“But if that’s not going to be present in our game (here), we’ll definitely be having a problem with Kazakhstan because they are a team shoots the three-point shot well,” added Guiao, whose team split its two games in the fourth window with a loss to Iran (81-73) in Tehran and a win versus Qatar (92-81) here.
Of the 12-man team Guiao listed for the 7p.m. match at the MOA Arena, four were part of the Philippine squad that trashed Kazakhstan in the Asian games – JP Erram, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood and Stanley Pringle.
Joining them are June Mar Fajardo and Greg Slaughter – first time teammates to form the ‘Twin Towers’ – LA Tenorio, Alex Cabagnot, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Matthew Wright, and Scottie Thompson.
“Our lineup is based on who are the guys who can affect and put pressure on the other team with consistency,” said Guiao, whose team played a total of four tune up games against Jordan and Lebanon.
Christian Stanhardinger, a Filipino-German whose status is in FIBA is also naturalized, is expected to play against the taller Iranians on Monday also at the MOA Arena.
Also left out, but can still make it to the 12-man roster versus Iran, were Paul Lee, Arwind Santos, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and amateur standouts Ricci Rivero and Kai Sotto.