Photo credit: FIBA
TAIPEI – In all likelihood, Gabe Norwood will be given the task of guarding Matthew Dellavedova of the Milwaukee Bucks when Gilas Pilipinas faces Australia on Monday in the continuation of the FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers.
Norwood though will not be going into the game defending Dellavedova for the first time.
The Rain or Shine cager said he had played against Dellavedova years ago when Gilas Pilipinas was playing tune-up matches against Australia during the 2014 Fiba World Cup.
“Guarding him before, we played them in a tune-up before Spain. They got the best of us by a lot in that situation,” said Norwood.
“Anytime you go up against an NBA talent, it is really challenging. That’s what you signed up for when you play for the national team,” he said.
Norwood couldn’t have asked for a better game defensively going into the potential matchup against Dellavedova and the Boomers on Monday at the Philippine Arena.
Norwood was the anchor of Gilas’ defense on Friday night in their 93-71 win over the home side Chinese Taipei as he accumulated five steals to go along with his eight points.
He played down his individual effort, though, as the team was locked defensively.
“That was crazy,” Norwood said about his five steals. “I don’t know. It was just effort. Team effort. Dray (Blatche) did a great job out there on the post. I was just trying to chase guys as much as I could and stay after it.”
“They (Chinese Taipei) came out on fire in the first quarter. We weathered the storm. We stayed together, set our game plan, and came up with the win,” Norwood said.
After a first quarter that saw Chinese Taipei shoot the lights out, Gilas Pilipinas was able to atone, outscoring the home squad, 28-18, in the second period thanks to its defensive effort.
“It was big. They (Chinese Taipei) came out, ran a couple of sets we haven’t seen. They executed well. Coach (Chot Reyes) did a good job of getting the second group early. They were able to make adjustments that kept us in the game,” Norwood said.
Norwood and the rest of Gilas travelled to Manila Saturday morning as they now gear up against the Boomers, who lost to Japan in their own Asian qualifying match.
Australia and the Philippines are now tied at first place in Group B with a 4-1 record.
“That’s big news. I didn’t know about it until after the game. We are going to enjoy this (win against Chinese Taipei), but there is a quick turnaround. We have to focus against Australia,” Norwood said.