Preview: Gilas Pilipinas vs Kazakhstan
Game time: 8:30pm
Pre-Tournament Tune-up Game: Gilas over Kazakhstan, 92-89.
What Gilas should look out for (assuming all the Kazakhs will play):
Kazakhstan has a guy with the demeanor of Marc Pingris and the body of Beau Belga. His name is Mikhail Yevstigneyev (#7), and that's all really all we need to know. He's a 6'7" tough guy who's built really to carve space in the paint and make opposing frontliners remember what pain feels like. A lot of the other Kazakh bigs can also hold their own around the basket, so it's imperative that Gilas really fight for those rebounds.
2. Jerry Johnson
Reports has stated that Johnson has a serious injury and might not even play, but I highly doubt if coach Matteo Boniciolli will be holding back here. For Kazakhstan to have a solid chance, Johnson must play. He's really the only guy on the Kazakh roster quick enough to stay with guys like Jayson Castro, Jimmy Alapag, or LA Tenorio.
3. Streaky Sniping
Anton Ponomarev, Rustam Yargaliev, Dimo Klimov, and Rustam Murzagaliev are all potentially streaky snipers who can torch the hoops and make life tough for Gilas in much the same way Taiwan and Hong Kong did. Should those guys catch fire, our boys will be in for a long night. The scary thing is Kazakhstan hasn't really had a good shooting night, so if they pick this one to get hot, then we better watch out.
We can exploit:
1. Transition game
I am hoping our defense is at its best tonight and that our running game will be just as awesome. If we can force stops like we did against Japan and Qatar and get out on the break, then Gilas can potentially build a big lead and cruise to victory. The guys have to come out and be really aggressive, though.
2. Our athleticism
Kangaroos Gabe Norwood and Japeth Aguilar could have a field day against the Kazakhs, who are big, but not very athletic. I am hoping that this will enable us to have the edge in rebounding, especially since Marcus might not be 100% and the Snow Leopards are top 4 in rebounding among all quarterfinal teams.
3. The boisterous crowd
As always, I expect the hometown crowd to be at its noisiest. We are all, collectively, the sixth man for Gilas, and we should be loud and proud no matter what happens on the court. Coach Matteo is raring to play in front of a big crowd, so we should oblige and make him regret what he wished for.
It's the match-up we wanted, but this is by no means an easy game. I doubt if we'll blow the Kazakhs out, so be ready for a barn-burner.
Odds: 60-40 in favor of Gilas Pilipinas. - Rappler.com