(Nouhad Nawfal Sports
6:30 p.m. – Lebanon vs Philippines
Gilas Pilipinas begins the process of trying to salvage whatever is left in its campaign in the FIBA Asia Cup when it battles host Lebanon tonight in the classification round for fifth to eighth places at the Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut.
The Chot Reyes-mentored team can only hope it can put to rest, at least for the moment, Wednesday’s heartbreaking loss to South Korea in the quarterfinals and secure a respectable finish in the Lebanese capital.
All of the hard work Gilas put in sweeping Group B went to waste following the 118-86 loss to South Korea, extending the Philippines’ so-called curse against the East Asian nation.
Gilas spent the aftermath of the loss by attending a church in Beirut, hoping it could give the team some perspective before going into its last two matches in the tournament.
Should Gilas win, it will advance in the last round of the classification against either Jordan or China for fifth place on Sunday. Otherwise, it plays the Jordan-China loser on the same day for seventh place.
Lebanon was relegated to a meeting with Gilas after losing 80-70 to Iran, also heldWednesday.
Gilas goes into the homestretch of the FIBA Asia tilt without 6-foot-8 Fil-German Christian Standhardinger, who left Beirut Thursday to join the other national squad that will compete in the Malaysia Southeast Asian Games.
June Mar Fajardo, who returned Wednesday after missing the group stage before of a strained right calf, is expected to share minutes with Raymond Almazan and Japeth Aguilar with Standhardinger no longer available.
Attention will also be on Terrence Romeo, who fired all of his 22 points in the second quarter against the Koreans.
His performance has caught the attention of those who have followed the tourney, and is eager to continue that showing.
Looking to spoil Gilas’ bid is Lebanon led by its ageless star Fadi El-Khatib, one of Asia’s best players.