Gilas PH ready for battle
GILAS Pilipinas has declared itself ready to go to war in the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, as the team left the country yesterday amid high expectations after a week of intense training camp in Cebu.
According to reports, the nationals already arrived in Changsa, China, the venue of the tournament, which dangles a lone spot for the Asian champion for the 2016 Rio Olympics set next year in August.
The nationals are confident of their chances against the best teams in Asia, with a better-conditioned Andray Blatche and a team which had improved its cohesiveness and fluidity.
“We’re in a much better shape know. I think we’re ready,” said Gilas coach Tab Baldwin. “All of our preparations will now come to play. We have everything we need from scouting reports to the system we’d like to run. We’re a better team now with better cohesion. It’s now for us to do our best.’’
The Cebu camp, which ended with an additional practice last Sunday, capped an impressive stint in the Jones Cup, where Gilas finished second and a four-team pocket tournament held in Manila, which they won.
“The tournaments and games that we played in really helped us a lot in terms of gauging ourselves and where we’re at,’’ said Baldwin. “We’re able to adjust and correct the mistakes we saw from there to tighten screws.’’
The Philippine Team starts its FIBA Asia campaign tomorrow against Palestine at 11:45 a.m. in Group B play of the opening round before it faces Hong Kong on Thursday and Kuwait on Friday. Gilas Pilipinas has been picked to sweep all its games in the initial round before plunging to a much tougher competition in the second round onwards.
The top three teams in the group will join the top three squads from Group A, which is composed of Japan, Malaysia, India and defending champion Iran, in second round play to form Group E wherein teams will carry its records over and play the teams they haven’t played yet. From there, the top four teams, along with the top four from the other side of the bracket, advance to the quarterfinals.
Blatche, the team’s naturalized star, used the past week to get himself in better condition after he took some time off in the middle of training to attend to his ailing mother in the United States. The former National Basketball Association player standout is now in better condition and is looking to spearhead the Philippines’ attack.
“He (Blatche) is getting better and he’s been working hard. We’re looking forward for his contributions for us,’’ said Baldwin.