JAKARTA - The Philippine men’s basketball team finally goes to battle in the 2018 Asian Games men’s basketball tournament against Kazakhstan on Thursday morning at the GBK Basketball Hall here.
The national squad fondly called by fans as the Gilastopainters will actually open up the country’s campaign in the quadrennial showpiece in the 10 a.m. match (11 a.m. Manila time).
Following a tumultuous lead-up to the Asiad that saw the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas pulling the basketball team out before changing its mind, the Philippine team finally goes to the court a day after getting some good news that Cleveland Cavaliers cager Jordan Clarkson was allowed by the NBA to play in a one-time exception with his native country.
Head coach Yeng Guiao, however, said the short preparation remains a concern despite being able to make the most out of the short one-week build-up for the Asiad.
“Our biggest concern is the lack of preparation time,” said Guiao. “Although with the time that we spent together, we’ve made a lot of progress. The team is gelling well. The camaraderie is good. They are absorbing the system really well.”
In order to make up for lost time, Guiao decided to have his former and current players join the Rain or Shine squad he previously coached before in the PBA.
“That’s the good news. The bad news is that we could have had a little more time sana,” said Guiao.
Guiao presided over the team’s final practice at the Gor Pulo Gadung gym before battling Kazakhstan, a match considered an all-important one since the two teams are grouped with China in Group D.
Clarkson will not make it to Thursday morning’s match but will arrive here at 10 a.m., an hour before the tip-off.
The core of the Elastopainters in Gilas mainstay Gabe Norwood, Raymond Almazan, Maverick Ahanmisi, Beau Belga, Chris Tiu, and James Yap have been the cornerstone of the Philippine squad, but look also for Stanley Pringle and Paul Lee to make a valuable contribution to the team.
Recently, former Gilas coach Tab Baldwin hailed the Pringle-Lee backcourt as one of the formidable backcourt duos in Asia.