The Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled for a head-to-head game against Thailand at 9:00 PM on November 27, 2020, live from the Khalifa Sports City Stadium Manama, Bahrain.
The relatively younger Gilas Pilipinas roster kicks off their campaign in the second window of FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers against Thailand, who will be fielding an all-professional squad in the first of their two meetings.
Heading into the November window of the FIBA Asia qualifiers, Gilas holds a 1-0 record after it bested Indonesia, 100-70, last February in Jakarta.
Thirdy Ravena, currently playing in the Japan league, scored 24 points and eight rebounds for Gilas in the said game. PBA stars CJ Perez, and Roger Pogoy chipped in 20 and 19 points apiece.
With the exclusion of Ravena, Perez, and Pogoy in the Philippine Men’s national pool, Kobe Paras is expected to step up for the Jong Uichico-coached national team. The same goes with Dwight Ramos, Isaac Go, Juan Gomez de Liaño, and Matt Nieto, who all saw action in a 30-point drubbing of Indonesia in the first window and combined for 31 points.
Eleven players, expected to play important roles, are also included in the Gilas pool for the window, namely: Javi Gomez De Liano, Jaydee Tungcab, Dave Ildefonso, Will Navarro, Justine Baltazar, Calvin Oftana, Kenmark Carino, Mike Nieto, Rey Suerte, Angelo Kouame, and Allyn Bulanadi.
“Our problem with Thailand is that they’ve been playing together for quite some time already because they are a club team. We have already battled them last year in the SEA Games and they’ve been together for so long. And through these years, they improve to be a very cohesive unit,” Uichico said in an interview.
“Our team is composed of newbies so we need to work double-time and the players need to absorb what we have been teaching so they’ll be ready enough to play against Thailand,” Uichico added.
“They know they are capable of winning. The progress in practice is very positive so our (coaching staff) confidence and theirs (players) have been going up,”Uichico further reiterated.
For their part, Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio said: “I am excited because it’s only gonna level up Philippine basketball with this experience and yes, a lot of pool of young men I’m excited to see who among these players will be there in (FIBA World Cup in) 2023 and of course to be competing slots with PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) veterans,”
“We’re really looking at this as a long-term program for the national team,” Panlilio added.
Meanwhile, Thailand has also played a single game in the qualifiers so far.
That time, bannered by Thai-American Tyler Lamb, who finished with a double-double of 20 points and 12 rebounds, the Thai squad was defeated by South Korea (2-0), 93-86.
Nakorn Jaisanuk, Chanatip Jakwawan, and Wattana Suttisin contributed 15, 13, and 12 points respectively, however, the South Korean squad is just too much for the slowly emerging Southeast Asian basketball team.
Eyeing for his team’s first win in the tourney, Jakrawan, who recently earned MVP honors in the Thailand Basketball League, is expected to lead his team towards its goal of defeating its SEA Games rival, Gilas Pilipinas.
Surprisingly, the 6-foot-5 Lamb was not included in Thailand’s 10-man roster.
As per tournament format, the top two teams in the group at the end of the qualifiers advance to the FIBA Asia Cup set for August next year.