MANILA, Philippines – Despite the shortage of players and the very limited time of preparation, Gilas Pilipinas stalwarts Dwight Ramos and Thirdy Ravena remain confident of the national team’s chances in the upcoming window of the 2023 FIBA World Cup Asia qualifiers later this month.
Ramos, who plays for the Toyama Grouses in the Japan B. League, even expects Gilas to sweep all its games, just like it did in the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.
“I always have high expectations for our team, so of course, going into the window, I’m expecting us to go 4-0,” said Ramos during the Power & Play program hosted by former PBA commissioner Noli Eala on Saturday, February 12.
“Of course it’s very difficult within our preparation time and our lack of players at the moment. It’s going to be a hard job, but of course, you got to set high expectations for yourselves and that’s what I’m hoping to do with our team,” he added.
Ravena, the pioneer B. League import who is now in his second season with the San-En NeoPhoenix, echoed Ramos’ sentiments, saying Gilas should take pride in playing on its home floor as the games will be played at the Araneta Coliseum starting on February 24.
“For us, the pressure should come from within ourselves. Of course there’s going to be pressure because with Gilas, you’re carrying the whole country, not only one team. The whole country really watches,” said Ravena in a mix of English and Filipino.
“But also as players, we need to challenge ourselves.”
“It’s going to be a tough four games, but it’s no excuse. We’re here and we’re going to play at home, so we need to take pride on that. Hopefully, you know, we get to secure wins in the window,” Ravena added.
With the qualifying window just around the corner, Ramos said it’s been fun playing for newly reappointed Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, and that he’s been doing “pretty well” in terms of learning Reyes’ dribble drive system.
Ravena, on the one hand, praised the coaching staff for being very hands on in teaching him the new offense, and also added that the team has been running the offensive scheme well in its last two practices.
Aside from Ramos and Ravena, other members of the Gilas pool are naturalized big man Angelo Kouame, Juan Gomez de Liaño, William Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, and Tzaddy Rangel.
Reinforcing the squad are TNT Tropang Giga players, as well as NorthPort Batang Pier star Robert Bolick, who just recently joined the team’s practice on Saturday, February 12.
Gilas takes on Korea on February 24 and February 28, India on February 25, and New Zealand on February 27. – Rappler.com