PH, Gilas Pilipinas will be facing an uphill battle against Japan on Tuesday, July 19, in a bid to book a ticket to the quarterfinals of the ongoing FIBA Asia Cup in Indonesia.
The national men’s basketball team absorbed a 75-92 loss from perennial tormentor New Zealand at the close of the group stage. This came on the heels of a 101-59 thrashing victory over India on July 15 and an 80-95 defeat at the hands of Lebanon on July 13.
Philippines head coach Chot Reyes said their focus is now on their knockout playoff opposite the Japanese.
After bowing to the Tall Blacks anew, he said, “We still have a chance, one more against Japan to get to the top eight. Now we have to forget this and just focus our energies and our thoughts toward our next game.”
Japan, according to him, plays a faster-paced offense than New Zealand, averaging 97.7 points per game, which is the highest in the tournament. They also pace the Asia Cup in assists (24.7) and steals (12.3).
The Gilas, however, will have to deal with the prolific three-point shooting of the Akatsuki Five who average 16.7 triples. The latter even exploded with 27 triples when they crushed Syria, 117-56, in the group stage while the Philippines recorded a total of 28 treys in the entire tournament.
Reyes take in FIBA
“[W]e said we have to forget this game because the next team we’re playing plays a completely different type of ballgame,” Reyes said, adding, “We told the players that they have to get rest because we need a lot of energy and all of our quickness to stay with Japan.”
Japan B. League standouts Ray Parks and brothers Kiefer and Thirdy Ravena will lead the charge for the Gilas squad. It is interesting to note that Parks is a teammate of Japan’s Tenketsu Harimoto and Yutaroh Suda in the Nagoya Diamond Dolphins while Ravena played for the San-En NeoPhoenix in two full B. League seasons.
Reyes said they just have to get ready for the match by watching the Japanese play.
The Japan national team, which placed second in Group C after losing to Iran for the top spot, is bannered by NBA player Yuta Watanabe and naturalized player Luke Evans.
Meanwhile, New Zealand leaned on Flynn Cameron who led the Tall Blacks with 18 points, four rebounds, and three assists and teammate Taine Murray chipped in 16 points, four triples, and eight rebounds in their game against the Gilas.
PH captain Kiefer
Kiefer top scored for the Philippines by hitting 17 markers, six rebounds, and three assists, while Carl Tamayo canned 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists.
Parks Jr., for his part, made 10 points, including 3-of-8 from the field.
The 28-year-old Gilas player Kiefer said they were outrebounded by the Tall Blacks by 33 and it was a mind-boggling fact.
“We weren’t able to capitalize on our almost perfect no turnover game,” he said.