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Gilas takes on Aussies tonight

Game Today

(Philippine Arena, Bocaue)

7:30 p.m. – PH vs Australia

Gilas Pilipinas is bracing for a more-determined resolve from Australia as the two teams dispute the Group B’s top spot in the final first round match of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

The Filipino dribblers are looking to build on the momentum gained in Friday’s 93-71 road win over Taiwan and avenge their loss to the Australians in the second window last February in the match set at 7:30 p.m.

Australia beat Gilas, 84-68, last Feb. 22 in Melbourne for the Philippines’ only loss at this point of the qualifiers.

Coach Chot Reyes is preparing against a team out to redeem itself from its shock 79-78 defeat to Japan in Tokyo three days ago.

Australia is led by NBA players Matthew Delladova and Thon Maker.

“I think (winning over Taiwan) helps us a lot because it gives us momentum, especially that we expect Australia to come out like wounded warriors against us so we just have to be ready and come out and play our best,” said Reyes.

Maker had 13 points and 12 rebounds while Dellavedova produced four points and eight assists in their World Cup Qualifiers debut but saw Australia having to deal with Japan’s new addition Nick Fazekas, who played as an import for Petron in the PBA and San Miguel in the ASEAN Basketball League.

Gilas is banking on big performances from June Mar Fajardo, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro, who all stood out against Taiwan.

Fajardo, averaging 13.0 points and 4.4 rebounds in the first round, made a good account of himself against Australia despite the loss while Romeo will try to improve on his 14-point in his debut in the qualifiers.

Dellavedova and Maker are not the only players Gilas will worry once the two teams troop to the floor.

Daniel Kickert, Kevin Lisch, Cameron Gliddon and Angus Brandt were among the Aussie players who made key roles in beating Gilas in the first encounter.

Winning tonight’s match holds a big importance for the two sides as it will give either team an additional victory going into the second round of qualifiers.

The win-loss record in the first round will be carried over in the second round where Gilas, Australia and either Taiwan or Japan face the top three teams in Group D.

Three-time FIBA Asia winner Iran and Kazakhstan are already assured of a berth in the second round.