Gilas eyes fitting revenge

Avenging its heartbreaking setback to Lebanon will be the marching order when Gilas Pilipinas battles Saudi Arabia in the final game of the fourth window FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers today at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Tip off is at 7 p.m. with the Filipinos cagers craving for a crucial victory that will not only boost their morale but will also restore the confidence of their fans who raised doubts when they suffered an 81-85 setback to Lebanon in Beirut last Monday.

Gilas head coach Chot Reyes is tipped to come up with some key adjustments that will maximize their height, length, athleticism and talent as well as lessen their turnovers that cost them the very important win over Wael Arakji and the red-hot Cedars.

Reyes, for one, will field Roosevelt Adams for the very first time in lieu of Carl Tamayo, who joined University of the Philippines in its training in South Korea.

Adams is expected to provide firepower and versatility to the Gilas squad that got torched by Arakji in the crucial stretch of their battle.

In that game, Jordan Clarkson fired 27 points and seven assists while Dwight Ramos, Japeth Aguilar and Kai Sotto connived to provide crucial support on both ends of the floor.

Ramos delivered 18 points and 10 rebounds while Aguilar and Sotto controlled the paint with authority as they scored 11 and 10 markers, respectively.

But in the end, turnovers and a gutsy lefty guard in Arakji doomed Gilas chances. The Filipinos committed 21 turnovers before watching the flamboyant Arakji drain a contested three-pointer from the left flank in the crucial stretch to seal the victory.

Reyes knows that the same lousy effort should not happen again so they have to come up with significant improvement in order to win convincingly against a lower-ranked squad.

“If we get some more time, some more practice together, we should be able to address that,” said Reyes, whose team is favored for sitting at No. 35 in the latest International Basketball Federation ranking while the Saudis are at No. 80.

Like Reyes, Clarkson wants nothing more than a dominant win.

It will be the Utah Jazz star’s first time playing on home soil ever, giving him the drive to impress the Filipino crowd inside the 15,000-seater stadium.

“We just got to get back to the drawing board. We’re going back to Manila, we got the Saudi game,” Clarkson said.

“We wanna be prepared for that, we’ll try to get a win at home.”

But Saudi wants to paint a different story.

Saudi playmaker Khalid Abdel Gabar said they want to come up with a stronger fight to pull off an upset against the favored Filipinos.

Gabar challenged his squad should be aggressive from the get-go and avoid the similar fate they suffered against New Zealand, 65-80, on Thursday.

Saudi has won only once in five matches in the qualifiers.

Against the taller and physically stronger Kiwis, Gabar had 22 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Mathna Almarwani chipped in 16 points and three rebounds in a losing effort.

“We can’t be down like that in the beginning of the game so next time we have to play a much better game,” Gabar said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *