Gilas Pilipinas will get their FIBA World Cup quest started today, August 25, vs Dominican Republic in front of what is believed to be a record crowd at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.
Gilas Pilipinas’ national coach, Chot Reyes, refused to speak on the possibility that his team could pull off a victory against Karl-Anthony Towns-led team that defeated the World Cup title favorite Canada by a score of 94-88 in their final tune-up for the competition in Granada, Spain.
The Dominican Republic also gave the number one team in the world, Spain, some trouble before losing the match with a score of 86-77 a few days later.
“For nine years, especially in this kind of competition, I’ve realized that it’s best not to think about and worry about one’s chances. Reyes informed the reporters present during the press conference that took place on Thursday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, “We are aware that the competition is so tough, and if you spend time thinking about your chances, it is really not very useful, so we would rather focus on other productive things.”
For Gilas to get off to a good start in the group stage, he stated it would be essential to keep their thoughts focused on the game plan.
“We’re just focusing on what we can control,” said the 60-year-old coach who led the Philippines to a one-win total at the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain, marking the country’s first triumph on the world basketball stage since 1974 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. “We’re just focusing on what we can control,” said the coach, who led the Philippines to a one-win total at the 2014 World Cup in Seville, Spain.
It will boost our prospects if we can accomplish that (maintain focus). It is difficult for me to provide you with a specific number, such as a percentage or statistic, about that matter. And just by the nature of the tournament, being the World Cup, we know how difficult it is, so 50 percent is turning up, and we’re all here, putting ourselves in a 50 percent position to succeed,” he said.
The Philippine team will field a final 12 roster that possesses the combination of size, experience, and youth to challenge head-on against a Dominican Republic side that is likewise motivated to improve on its 19th-place result from the 2019 edition in China.
Gilas is led by Utah Jazz player Jordan Clarkson, a Filipino-American who previously played for the national team during the fourth window of Asian qualifications in August 2022. This will be Clarkson’s first time representing the Philippines at the FIBA World Cup, his first major international competition.
Gilas will also rely on two Philippine youth national team veterans, Kai Sotto, and AJ Edu, in the front court to add size and, ideally, improve their rebounding.
In addition, in June, Mar Fajardo and Japeth Aguilar are participating in their third consecutive World Cup tournament as members of the Philippine national squad.
Dwight Ramos, CJ Perez, Rhenz Abando, and Jamie Malonzo, both competing in their first World Cup, provide athleticism and scoring punch for the team. Shooter Roger Pogoy, guards Kiefer Ravena and Scottie Thompson, and shooter Pogoy round out the final 12 players on the roster.
These four players, Bobby Ray Parks Jr., Thirdy Ravena, Calvin Oftana, and Chris Newsome, were the final ones to be cut from the 16-man roster.
The head coach of the Dominican Republic team, Norman Garcia, expressed his team’s excitement at the prospect of playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Philippine Arena while also stressing the significance of securing a victory in their opening match.
When you play in front of a crowd, it provides you with an additional drive. “You have to get out there and play ball; it’s the best thing,” Garcia advised.
“Clarkson, he is a player in the NBA, and at times, when he is in open field, he can shoot from a long range. “Even at his level, he can play the three position, so he’s dangerous, while the Philippine team has good shooters, players with a high IQ, and even the big guys, they are really fast,” he said. “Even at his level, he can play the three position.”