1:30 p.m. – Jordan vs PH
Belo with 30 points, 11 rebounds.
Gilas Pilipinas finally sustained a hot start yesterday and defeated Kazakhstan, 98-86, for its first win in the FIBA Asia Challenge at the Twelve Thousand People Sport Hall in Tehran, Iran.
Mac Belo continued his impressive showing with 30 points and 11 rebounds while Ed Daquioag added 17 points, four assists and three steals as Gilas arrested a 0-3 start to remain in contention for a quarterfinal berth in the Iranian capital.
At presstime, Gilas is in fifth place in Group E behind unbeaten teams Taiwan and China (3-0), Jordan (2-1), and India (1-2). The top four teams in the group qualify for the quarters of the tournament.
Gilas faces Jordan at 1:30 p.m. today, needing to win regardless of the outcome of the other results and hope that it would be enough for the team mentored by Josh Reyes to make it to the knockout stages.
The first campaign of Gilas under a collection of amateur standouts was been inauspicious so far, losing its first three games to India (91-83), Taiwan (87-76) and China (75-65).
Pressed to comment on the early struggles, Gilas coach Tab Baldwin, who opted to hand the reigns to Reyes due to his duties as consultant of Ateneo in the UAAP, believes that expectations should be tempered.
“I don’t think anybody’s shocked that Gilas is having growing pains with a bunch of amateur players out there,” Baldwin said last Sunday after Gilas was stunned by India in the tournament opener.
“As young teams do they make mistakes. I thought they battled extremely hard, offensively they don’t have much efficiency,” he added. “I also don’t think the boys let us down in terms of their effort, but you can’t expect these young guys to be polished international players.”
Speaking of polished, Belo might be the exception. The former Far Eastern University star has been the best player for Gilas in the competition, averaging 21.0 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
But Gilas has been struggling against taller teams as seen against Taiwan with naturalized player Quincy Davis at center and China with its usually big men towering above everybody.
Gilas had no naturalized player while leaning on 6-foot-9 Arnold Van Opstal, 6-foot-6 Ponso Gotladera and 6-foot-4 Chris Javier in the shaded lane.