FIBA WORLD CUP: Qatar braces for new environment and new Gilas team
Paul Lintag on Sep 16, 2018 09:12 PM
"I've coached teams where we played in gyms with not many fans. Here, you don't expect that though, especially when you're playing against Gilas," --- Qatar head coach Tim Lewis. (FIBA)
Monday's closed-door game in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers will be a first for Gilas Pilipinas.
It's also going a first for Qatar, the Philippines' opponents in the Group F clash.
As both teams prepare for the historic outing, it's sure weird for the visiting Qataris to not see a massive crowd at the Big Dome.
Gilas home games tend to be packed after all.
"I mean, I'm not sure how many closed door games have been played here in Manila. I think we were looking forward to playing in a packed environment, just for the experience and the atmosphere for the players," head coach Tim Lewis said on the close-door game.
"So it will be different, you'll be able to hear everything we say, and I'm sure the game will have a different feel to it, it's hard to say until we actually start playing," he added.
Lewis is familiar with how Gilas plays its home games after coaching Thailand in the 2017 SEABA Championships here in Manila.
After that, Lewis was also involved with the TNT KaTropa for about a month as a consultant.
"I've coached teams where we played in gyms with not many fans. Here, you don't expect that though, especially when you're playing against Gilas," Lewis said.
Aside from dealing with a new environment, Lewis and the Qataris also prepare for a new-look Gilas team.
Former head coach Chot Reyes is gone and coach Yeng Guiao's Final 12 for Monday feature players not necessarily included in previous Gilas iterations.
It doesn't mean that the Philippines got weaker though.
"Any Gilas team is gonna be solid, they play in a strong lead, they're well-coached. So I think it's probably not a fair statement to say it's a weak Gilas team," Lewis said.
"I think it's a different Gilas team. They're getting to know each other, playing a different system, so you know, the coach is gonna have his own problems in terms of that. But they performed well against Iran and they did a good job in the Asian Games. So the core of that team is together and I'm sure they'll come out and be super competitive," he added.
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