Similar to their strategy against team China last 2018 Asian Games, coach Yeng Guiao wanted the same “keep the game close”.
However, there’s more! The veteran PBA head coach wanted to steal a win in the end.
This time around, the national team will have no Cleveland Cavaliers guard Jordan Clarkson in the lineup. Likewise there’s no Andray Blatche as the team’s naturalized player. Blatche is currently serving his suspension after he took part on the brawl incident during the Gilas Pilipinas game against team Australia last July.
With the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifier second round opener game of team Pilipinas will take place in Iran, coach Yeng don’t see that his squad can pile big lead in front of their of the host nation fans.
“Ako I just want it to be a close match,” Guiao said. “I just want it to be tight toward the end against a home crowd, against playing in their home court. Mahirap mag-ambisyon na we get a good lead towards the end against Iran in their home court.”
If team Pilipinas keep the score manageable until the end part of the game, coach Yeng believes that his squad will be able to make an upset in Tehran.
“Wag lang tayo maiwan. Mailaban lang natin hanggang sa huli, okay na ako doon. Baka may tsamba doon,” said Guiao.
Team Iran which is led by a former NBA player Hamed Haddadi won the silver medal as they placed second against team China last 2018 Asian Games. Without Greg Slaughter, team Pilipinas will make a way on how to contain the 7’2″ big-man of Iran.
Team Pilipinas finished fifth in the Asian games and lost to the gold medalist team China during the preliminary round by just a basket, 80-82. Iran on the other hand lost to the Chinese squad with eight points, 72-84.
“We are about 80, 85 percent (ready). The next two days, we are putting in place our defensive schemes. We are about 85 percent,” said Guiao.
Compared to their preparation in the Asian Games where Guiao carried a team mostly from Rain or Shain Elasto Painters, team Pilipinas version is far from ideal but then, coach Yeng don’t want to use it as an excuse.
“Halos pareho rin kasi ganito rin ‘yung situation namin noon. Kaya lang noon, nakabuti sa amin na we were in Jakarta early. We had a few days there. Now, we will practically have one-and-a-half days in between getting there and the game itself. Nung nagpunta kami Jakarta, may apat na araw pa ata kami doon.”
“Actually, mas gahol sa panahon ngayon eh kasi nga na-aggravate pa nung injury kay Greg (Slaughter) at hinihintay natin ‘yung status niya. The usual problem, pero sanay na tayo. Hindi na natin gagawing excuse ‘yun.”
“Pagdating ng laro, it’s either we win or lose on the credit of this national team that we have on their effort and on the preparation. I don’t think na it’s proper to make excuses after that,” said Guiao.