The Philippines’ Gilas Pilipinas is scheduled for a head-to-head game against the Australia Boomers at 4:30 P.M. (PHI time) on February 22, 2018 in Melbourne, Australia.
The second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers will start today and two undefeated ball-clubs in Group B will clash and will have a separate ways going to their next respective game schedule.
They’re the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup champions which was held in Lebanon that defeated the Hamed Haddadi-led Iran squad, they’re currently the world’s number 10 in FIBA ranking and will be sporting a height average of 6’6″ in today’s game. Those are the selling points of the Australia Boomers.
Looking at the odds, Gilas Pilipinas will be entering the game as the underdog and will be playing like David against the taller Goliath. After-all, Gilas is built on their famous mantra “Laban Pilipinas! Puso!”.
Filipino naturalized player Andray Blatche is expected to led the Filipinos on orchestrating an upset in front of the Australian basketball fans. Blatche production needs to be improved especially in the offensive end as he only averaged 9.5 points, 13.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 4.0 blocks during his first two games versus team Japan and team Chinese Taipei.
The batch of Gilas Players flew to Melbourne have an average height of 6’3″ and their only legit big-men are June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and Andray Blatche. Most likely coach Chot Reyes will counter the height and might of the opponent with speed and outside shooting. That’s why we have a lot of guards and shooters in the lineup.
Jayson Castro William who also dubbed as the Best Point Guard in Asia won’t be available in today’s game due to an injury. Kiefer Ravena who is the second overall pick in the 2017 PBA draft will be given more minutes as well as his fellow NLEX Road Warriors Kevin Alas.
“Both of them have been playing very well in the PBA. You all know Kiefer accounted himself very well in the first window. It’s hard not having our top point guard, but this is an opportunity for Kiefer to step in and for Kevin to get a lot more minutes than he usually gets,” the Gilas coach said.
Daniel Kickert is currently the best scoring player of the Australia Boomers after he logged 18.5 points per game during the first window of the tournament. At 6’10, he’s able to stretch the floor with his outside shooting abilities which can pull our big-men away from the paint.
Apart from Kickert, another player Pinoy need to watch out is Mitchell Creek who their leading scorer in their 2017 FIBA Asia Cup campaign in Lebanon. Creek praised the talents of Filipino guards and expects that Blatche will unload a lot of jumpers during their match.
Australia refuses to take Gilas Pilipinas lightly and is looking to focus on limiting our naturalized center, @drayblatche.
— ESPN5 (@Sports5PH) February 22, 2018
“They have got some great point guards and Blatche in the centre role who is going to shoot the ball a lot,” Creek said.
“This is his comeback game and we need to be switched on when he comes out, but for the most part we are just going to play Boomers’ defence and we will try to run transition and be poised in our attack. If we do that, we should be fine.”