FIBA WC: Gilas ‘eager’ to win, Iran seeking ‘surprise’ in vital clash

Gilas Pilipinas FIBA Qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas will resume action in the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers fifth window on Monday, December 3 needing a victory over powerhouse Iran to stay in the upper half of their group standings.

The Philippines faces Iran at the Mall of Asia Arena at 7:30 p.m., their last home game in the qualifiers.

Following their 92-88 upset loss to Kazakhstan last weekend, Gilas head coach Yeng Guiao said the squad is “eager and aching” to get back and perform well in front of their fans one final time.

“Of course we are eager and aching to get a win to compensate for our first game loss to make our countrymen happy,” Guiao said on Sunday night.

At 5-4 and in a tie with Japan from third to fourth spots in Group F, Gilas will need to beat Iran to have more cushion over their competitors and move to second place.

Only the top three teams in Groups E and F are guaranteed of slots to the World Cup.

“Also, that will tie us for second place. That’s a better spot than when we came in in this window,” Guiao added. “That is something that will encourage us even more going into the sixth window. So kailangan manalo talaga tayo bukas.”

The final 12 against Iran will be Japeth Aguilar, Beau Belga, June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Gabe Norwood, Troy Rosario, Arwind Santos, Christian Standhardinger, LA Tenorio, Scottie Thompson, Jayson Castro William, and Matthew Wright.

Even after their fall to Kazakhstan, Guiao noted that the team’s cohesion is already at a high level, and they will just have to do some final polishing for their Iran joust.

“Even during the hard times, this team is solid and unified. Wala tayong problema sa mga attitude,” Guiao shared. “Siguro nasa 95 (percent) pataas na tayo. By (Monday), baka nasa 99 na tayo.”

Like Gilas, Iran is recently coming off a loss as well as they dropped their last game against Australia. However, Iran is still in second spot with a 6-3 record.

Iran head coach Mehran Shahintab said he is already expecting a high quality affair between the two sides.

“I think you will see a quality game, a very good game because both teams need to win. So it will be (high),” Shahintab said. “We try to use this opportunity (to qualify earlier) We know the Philippines is a respected team, a great team.”

Iran beat Gilas in their first meeting in Tehran, 81-73. However, two mainstays Hamed Haddadi and Samad Nikkhah Bahrami will not be joining the squad for Monday, making it an even more difficult assignment for the West Asian side.

“Bahrami is living in the United States so he couldn’t come. Haddadi, he has a personal reason because signed with a club in China. He was engaged with a club,” Shahintab confirmed on Sunday.

The mentor is also wary of a different Gilas roster compared to the fourth window when most veterans served suspensions, but he will try to lead his side to victory.

“This game is completely different. They are coming with different players like Jayson William. I know that in homecourt, they are very different. They have good fans. This situation, we will try to surprise (them),” he said.

“Completely different situation. When you add one or two new players, the teams change. We are ready for a difficult game and a quality game.”

By Levi Verora, Jr.

One Response to FIBA WC: Gilas ‘eager’ to win, Iran seeking ‘surprise’ in vital clash

  1. Alberto says:

    We expect changes and surprises among our new group of Gilas Pilipinians with our new couch so as with new plays and teaming against Iran today. We look forward for improvement and teamwork, courage and strength. We already observe from behind that our athletes are fearless and not giving up so easily.

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