Gilas starts FIBA-Asia campaign with Finals rematch against China

Paul Lintag on Aug 09, 2017 09:37 AM
Gilas starts FIBA campaign with Finals rematch vs. China
Opening Group B play, Gilas Pilipinas will pick up right where it left off from the 2015 tournament as the Pinoys take on defending champion China in a Finals rematch from two years ago.

Whether they're actually ready or not, the Philippine men's national team goes right into action in the 2017 FIBA-Asia Cup in Beirut, Lebanon Wednesday.

Opening Group B play, Gilas Pilipinas will pick up right where it left off from the 2015 tournament as the Pinoys take on defending champion China in a Finals rematch from two years ago.

However, while the countries are the same, the cast of characters are way different in this clash of Asia's Elite.

For one, Gilas, ranked third in Asia by FIBA, is no longer coached by Tab Baldwin. Intead, Chot Reyes is back at the helm and will call the shots for a Philippine team that still feature old reliables in Jayson Castro, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, and Japeth Aguilar as well as new faces in Matthew Wright, RR Pogoy, and Christian Standhardinger among others.

The major question of course is just just how sharp Gilas is heading into the Asian championships. The Philippines infamously rushed its training after continued schedule conflicts with the PBA.

Also, Gilas will have no Andray Blatche in Lebanon and June Mar Fajardo is more than likely to miss the team's first game as the reigning three-time PBA MVP deals with a calf injury.

On the other side, the Chinese have opted not to play their two premier big men in Yi Jianlian and Zhou Qi.

Still, the champs will still feature an incredibly tall lineup and are led by the high-scoring Guo Ailun.

The 23-year-old playmaker of course led China in the Final two years ago against Gilas Pilipinas, burning the Philippines to the tune of 19 points and six assists.

He was actually the other guard in the FIBA-Asia All-Star 5 in 2015, the other one was Castro.

The highly-anticipated matchup between Asia's no. 1 and no. 3 ranked teams is set for 6:30 p.m. [PHL time].

 


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