Familiarity key in Gilas-Chinese Taipei rematch

Delfin Dioquino
The Filipinos, although already assured of a spot in the second round of the Asian Qualifiers, are seeking to upset the Taiwanese in front of their home crowd

SPOILER. Gilas Pilipinas seeks for a repeat win over Chinese Taipei on Friday, June 29. File photo from FIBA

MANILA, Philippines – It is not news anymore when Gilas Pilipinas has little time to prepare for its international tournaments.

And against Chinese Taipei, the Nationals will be relying on what they have used to pull through before: familiarity. 

Gilas barely had a week to fully prepare for the 3rd window of the Asian Qualifiers for the 2019 FIBA World Cup as its 15-man pool arrived just last Monday, June 25, in Chinese Taipei before facing the Taiwanese squad on Friday, June 29. 

The national team had been conducting Monday practices for the past few weeks, but the players had their focus on their respective PBA teams as the playoff race for the Commissioners’ Cup tightens. 

Still, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes believes his wards have already accustomed themselves to dealing with time constraints. 

“The good part is we’re used to this already. So hopefully, we’ll have to bank on the familiarity of the guys with each other, with the system,” said Reyes. 

Against Chinese Taipei, familiarity will heavily come to play. 

Gilas has had the Taiwanese’s numbers for the past few years and on Friday, the Filipinos look to do the same. 

One thing Gilas needs to avoid is having a slow start, especially when it faces a jampacked crowd at the Taipei Heping Basketball Stadium – which has a seating capacity of more than 7,000 – that has already sold out on tickets. 

The last time the two nations faced in the first window in November, the Philippines fell behind by as much as 14 points early before turning the tides en route to a 90-83 win – partly thanks to the rowdy Filipino crowd at the Araneta Coliseum. 

With all of Chinese Taipei against them, the Filipinos are aiming to play spoiler. 

“Who knows, perhaps we can punch above our weight. That’s the only way we can win in these games – to constantly punch above our weight,” said Reyes.  

Whatever happens, Gilas is already assured of a spot in the second round of the Qualifiers with a 3-1 card in Group B, although a win is very much welcome to build up momentum with a clash against the undefeated Australia looming. 

Chinese Taipei, which carries a 1-3 card just above the winless Japan (0-4), needs all the win it can get to advance. – Rappler.com

Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.