Yesterday, Gilas Pilipinas continued their preparations for the upcoming Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup. After losing to Alab Pilipinas in their first tune up game, the national team bounced back and defeated the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 96-75.
It was a game that was stained by a fistfight that broke out between Carl Bryan Cruz and Don Trollano. But it was still very productive for Gilas as they were able to run their schemes and gauge how ready they are for the coming competition.
For the people in the stands, it gave an idea of what to expect from our national team in the qualifiers. Here’s what we learned from the tune up game:
Gilas really worked on those outside shots
By halftime, Gilas had already knocked down 10 triples. By the end of the game, their total had reached 15. The one guy that really turned heads when it came to this was Troy Rosario. He converted on five three-pointers in the game, four of which were in the second period.
Both Troy and Coach Chot Reyes credited their Tagaytay camp for this performance. Reyes revealed that one of the objectives of the out-of-town training was to get a lot of shots up. He asked the players to put up 500 threes a day. But Rosario wanted to challenge himself a bit more. He decided not just to shoot, but to make 500 shots.
Still no Dray, still no Terrence
Just five days before they fly to Japan, still no Andray Blatche and Terrence Romeo in trainings and tune up games.
Right now, it’s look less and less likely that Terrence will be part of the final 12. But as for Dray, the team actually expected him to fly in before they went to Tagaytay. While Coach Chot was very satisfied with the camp, Blatche missing out was the only drawback he pointed out. “That was really scheduled to fit to Andray’s arrival,” he said. “I think at the last minute, he had a problem with his Chinese ball club.”
There is yet to be an exact date for Blatche’s arrival but he is expected to land in Manila no later than Saturday, November 18.
Kiefer is proving his worth
For several years now, Kiefer Ravena has served as the leader of younger versions of Gilas. He was team captain of the teams that represented the country in the Jones Cup, SEA Games and FIBA Champions Cup. Now, it looks like he’s well on his way to graduating into the main team.
Back in the Jones Cup, Kiefer told me that his personal goal was to lead the tournament in assists. He ended up second, behind Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ying-Chun by margin of 0.05. But something that was evident in that competition – and in the two others that he played with Gilas – was that Ravena’s game has matured.
That’s what he brought to the tune up game yesterday. He knew his role. He wasn’t trying to get buckets. He wasn’t even trying to get assists. All he wanted to do was execute – both offensively and defensively. That helped Gilas a lot. How it’s looking right now, Kiefer will serve as Jayson Castro’s main back up.
Coach Chot is still far from deciding on the Gilas 12 for Japan
Asked if he’s anywhere near naming his 12-man lineup for the Japan game on November 24, Coach Chot said, “Not yet. First of all, we have to make sure that Andray is here. That’s going to impact the final lineup, of course. Until he’s actually here, we can’t really be sure.”
Gilas has one last tune up game on Saturday, against the NLEX Road Warriors. The team is hoping that Dray can finally join them in that.
In the new format of the qualifiers, teams have until the day before the game to submit the 12-man lineup that they will use.
Photos from the author