TAIPEI - Following Gilas Pilipinas’ victory over Chinese Taipei, the national squad can now be focused on their game against Australia in the final match in the first round of the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers to be played on Monday at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes said the team was not looking too far ahead as they were only preparing for Chinese Taipei during the week in Taipei for Friday’s match.
Now that Gilas got over Chinese Taipei, Reyes said the team can now prepare for Australia as he sees a dangerous Boomers squad especially after they lost to Japan, 79-78, on Friday in their own Asian qualifying match.
Gilas returned to Manila on Saturday morning to start the preparations.
“We know how strong Australia is especially now that they just dropped a game to Japan,” said Reyes during Friday’s postgame press conference.
NBA cagers Thon Maker and Matthew Dellavedova made their debut in the Fiba Basketball World Cup Asian qualifiers on Friday with Maker finishing with 13 points and 12 rebounds, and Dellavedova chipping in with four points and eight assists.
But the presence of the two Milwaukee Bucks players to bolster the team led by Christopher James Goulding, who had 22 points against Japan, was not enough with naturalized player Nick Fazekas powering Japan with 25 points and 12 rebounds.
“They will be coming out like wounded tigers against us on Monday. We just have to be ready. We just have to come in and play our best,” said Reyes.
Gilas beat Chinese Taipei, 93-71, on the road with June Mar Fajardo leading the attack with 22 points, giving the Philippine squad momentum going into the match against the highly-touted Australia side.
“We came into this game not even thinking about Monday. All of our efforts and our focus were on Chinese Taipei. We were not thinking about Australia at all. That’s no exaggeration. There was no talk at all of anything outside of this game (against Chinese Taipei).
“Now that we are done, I think it’s going to help because it gives us a good momentum,” said Reyes.