Gilas Pilipinas got off to a rousing start in its series of six tune-up games after subduing the Tab Baldwin-mentored Hawke’s Bay Hawks, 82-78 on Friday at the Hastings Sports Centre in Napier, New Zealand.
The win serves as a big booster for the national squad since the Hawks are one of the top teams in New Zealand’s National Basketball League (NBL).
Josh Reyes, son of national coach Chot, who serves as one of his deputies, said Gilas played out of sync but still managed to pull off the win.
“Bit out of sync but good first win today,” said Reyes in his Twitter account @josh_reyes.
The Hawks, mentored Baldwin, the former New Zealand national coach, gets another shot at beating the the national squad under Chot Reyes when they square off anew on Saturday.
Prior to leaving Manila, Reyes said he is hopeful that Gilas will be about 85 percent ready for the Fiba-Asia showpiece once they complete their 10-day New Zealand trip.
After the rematch with the Hawks, Gilas goes up against the NBL All-Stars on Sunday in Napier, which will serve as a curtain raiser for NBL one-game Finals at the Pettigrew-Green Arena.