The Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled for a head-to-head game against Thailand at 9:00 PM on November 30, 2020, live from the Khalifa Sports City Stadium Manama, Bahrain.
In the first of their two meetings in the second window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers last Friday (November 27), the relatively younger Gilas Pilipinas bulldozed a veteran-looking Thailand, 93-61.
Playing perfect basketball the last time out was Dwight Ramos. On top of his 7 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals, Ramos chipped in 20 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting as Gilas dominated their Southeast Asian rivals anew.
“It’s probably the first time (that I shot perfect from the field). The ball just went in today. My teammates pass[ed] me the ball, and they got me in the right spots,” said Ramos in a post-game interview.
“The next game is probably different. They’re going to adjust their game plan. They played us before, so they make some adjustments, and we have to make adjustments, as well. You never know the next game. It could be tight. We just have to see. We have to improve and play better,” added Ramos.
Coming into the game, there were doubts as to how a younger Gilas Pilipinas crew could keep up with an all-pro Thailand squad. However, in the second quarter, the Jong Uichico-coached team debunked these concerns and led by as much as 24 at the end of the first half, 53-29.
Ramos, along with Justine Baltazar and Juan Gomez de Liaño, combined for 32 points at halftime and outscored the entire Thailand team, with Ramos unloading 13 points in the first two quarters.
For the first time, representing the Philippine flag, Baltazar put up 12 points, 6 rebounds, 1 steal, and 1 block. Meanwhile, Juan Gomez de Liaño pumped in 12 points, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.
Carrying the momentum brought by their awe-inspiring 1st half start to the second half of the contest, Gilas didn’t hold back and further heighten their lead by as many as 36 points.
In a post-game interview, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Uichico said: “Coming into this game, we really were not sure how we’re going to play because of the seven, eight-month layoff, and we were just feeling ourselves at the start of the game.”
“Fortunately, the game turned around. I think we had more depth than they had,” Uichico added.
Contributing quite well in a win — that catapulted the national team to a 2-0 win-lose record in Group A, now tied with South Korea — were Javi Gomez de Liaño and Rey Suerte who had 9 points apiece, Mike Nieto with 8 points, and Isaac Go with 6 points and 4 rebounds.
Meanwhile, for the Thailand team, which remained winless at 0-3, Montien Wongsawangtham and Nakorn Jaisanuk finished with 17 and 12 points respectively.