Gilas PH shoots for semis berth
(Quarterfinals CSWC Gymanasium)
9:45 p.m. • Smart Gilas Pilipinas vs. Lebanon
THE journey continues for the streaking Gilas Pilipinas as it takes another step closer to its ultimate goal.
Armed with a five-game winning streak, the rampaging nationals aim to sustain their hot surge as they seek a return trip to the semifinals when they face Lebanon in the knockout-style quarterfinals of the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship.
The Group E top-seeded Gilas Pilipinas will lock horns with the dangerous Lebanese squad, which finished at No. 4 in Group F, in the nightcap at 9:45 p.m. today at the CSWC Gymnasium in Changsa, China with the winner earning a spot in the Final Four.
Prior to the Philippines-Lebanon tiff, the other knockout quarters games features Iran against South Korea, which clash at 2:30 p.m., followed by the tussle between Japan and Qatar at 4:45 p.m. and the still unbeaten host China and India at 7:30 p.m.
The winner between the Philippines and Lebanon will face the winner in the Japan-Qatar tilt.
After a shock opening-loss in its opening game in the tournament against Palestine, Gilas went on an impressive surge by winning its next five games on its way to claiming the group’s top seeding going into the quarterfinals.
The Filipinos, who finished the classification rounds with a 4-1 slate, had been playing exceptional basketball as the fluidity of Coach Tab Baldwin’s wards on both ends of the floor had given them satisfying results.
Despite all the confidence and momentum on their side, however, Baldwin knows that the toughest games loom ahead for the nationals, including this one against Lebanon.
“Now all the games are tough. All the opponents are tough,’’ said Baldwin.
The Kiwi-American national coach expects his dribblers to continue what they’ve been doing in the past five games.
“We have to be ready and bring it all together,’’ he said. ‘’We need to keep working as a team which is what we’re really supposed to do.’’
In contrast to the relatively easy path of the Gilas team, Lebanon had to get past the proverbial eye of the needle to make it through.
Lebanon scrambled to beat Jordan, 80-76, on Tuesday, to finish at 2-3 and take the last last remaining slot in the quarters.
The Philippines is understandably favored in today’s match, but Baldwin said the nationals won’t be taking Lebanon lightly.