By ADRIAN STEWART CO
Gilas Pilipinas’ months of hard work and preparation will be put to the test as they face the Dominican Republic in the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan tonight.
According to head coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes, the team had already made the necessary preparations against the Dominicans, based on the notes from the scouting done by assistant coach Tim Cone.
The long-time national men’s basketball team coach added that their primary focus is to stop the Dominicans’ two NBA players — Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Lester Quinones of the Golden State Warriors.
“Dominican Republic has very established players with a couple of NBA players on its roster,” Reyes said.
“The whole team is just focusing now on what needs to be done to give us a chance of pulling off a victory,” he added.
Bannering Gilas Pilipinas team are naturalized player Jordan Clarkson, and PBA veterans June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Roger Pogoy, Jamie Malonzo, Jaymar Perez, and team captain Earl Scottie Thompson.
Completing the 12 are Japan and Korea-based players Rhenz Abando, Dwight Ramos, AJ Edu, Kai Sotto, and Ilonggo Kiefer Ravena, who is making a return to the FIBA World Cup stage.
Meanwhile, despite being the favorites in the match, Dominican Republic head coach Nestor Garcia remains wary of the Philippine team, especially with Clarkson leading the way.
“They are very aggressive and it’s going to be noisy out there,” Garcia said, as he expects thousands of pro-Gilas Pilipinas to crowd inside the Iglesia Ni Cristo-owned venue tonight.
“Jordan Clarkson is a starter and we know he’s very dangerous. He produced a lot of things for them,” he said.
After the Dominican Republic, the Philippine men’s basketball team will next battle Angola this Sunday, August 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum before closing their group stage game against Italy on August 29./ASC, WDJ