CHANGSHA, China – The Gilas Pilipinas semifinal game against Japan in the Fiba Asia Championship has been pushed back to a much later start time by organizers at the last minute.
Originally scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. of Friday, the last semifinal match of the tournament was rescheduled to a 10 p.m. tipoff, which means the game would be over just before the clock strikes 12 midnight.
This marks the second straight day the Filipinos will be playing deep into the night as they also had the same 9:30 p.m. schedule during their quarterfinal duel with Lebanon on Thursday.
Organizers have not issued a formal statement regarding the change in the schedule, although the other semifinal pairing between host China and defending champion Iran will be played ahead of the Gilas-Japan match.
“Baka ipapalabas nila ng 8 p.m. primetime ‘yung China vs. Iran,” speculated PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial, who, for a long time, worked with former coveror Vintage Enterprises before assuming a front office job in the league.
As host, China always gets to play on primetime every playdate and its Final Four clash against defending champion Iran will be no different.
However, the late semifinal will give the winner of the Gilas-Japan semi so little turnaround time for the final set on Saturday.
Assuming the match ends before midnight, the winner will have less than 20 hours to rest, recover and prepare for the final against the winner of the Iran-China match on Saturday.
In fact, Gilas, if it goes all the way to the final, will be playing three games in a span of 46 hours.