Yeng, Gilas bracing for unusual environment in closed-door game
MANILA, Philippines – Home games involving Gilas Pilipinas usually draw rowdy mammoth crowds, but that will not be the case when it hosts Qatar in the fourth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
National team head coach Yeng Guiao admitted there will be a slight awkwardness as the Filipinos and the Qataris figure in a closed-door game on Monday, September 17, at the Araneta Coliseum.
"You have to visualize it already this early, na tahimik, na walang magchi-cheer sa'yo, na you cannot look for that hometown crowd that will energize you and encourage you," Guiao told reporters after wrapping up practice on Sunday, September 16.
(You have to visualize it already this early that it's quiet, that there will be no fans cheering for you, that you cannot look for that hometown crowd that will energize you and encourage you.)
The closed-door match is just one of several FIBA sanctions handed down on Gilas for its role in the infamous brawl with the Australia Boomers during a World Cup qualifier last July 2 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan.
In that game, fans were seen throwing plastic bottles inside the court while a civilian – identified as Gilas player Japeth Aguilar's father, Peter – was caught throwing a chair at an Australian player.
As a result, fans are barred from watching the game live and players, team staff members and select mediamen will be the only ones allowed access in the venue.
"It's the first time that we are going to play in an environment such as that, but you also have to prepare yourselves mentally kasi first time mong makikita 'yung ganoon (because it's the first time it's going to happen)," Guiao added.
"But I've already more or less briefed them and asked them to visualize it and prepare themselves for such an occasion, where you're playing in an empty stadium."
Despite not having their "sixth man" at their disposal, Guiao is still glad to be back home following their 73-81 loss to Iran on Thursday, September 13.
"Mami-miss namin 'yung crowd (We'll surely miss the crowd), but it surely is a lot better than playing outside the country, which we have experienced in Iran."
Game time is at 7:30 pm. – Rappler.com