JAKARTA, Indonesia – The Philippine basketball team wants no less than an emphatic win against Syria to end their roller-coaster Asian Games campaign on a high note.
A victory assures the squad of a fifth-place finish – an improvement from the seventh rank of the Gilas Pilipinas team in the 2014 Incheon Games.
Game time is 6:30 pm (7:30 pm in Manila) at the Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall here.
For head coach Yeng Guiao, wrapping up the team’s campaign here with a big win would be a nice gift to basketball-loving Filipinos, who were taken aback by the suspensions slapped on Gilas Pilipinas players and coaches following their brawl-marred game against Australia during the FIBA World Qualifier.
“We didn’t practice on Wednesday, but we still did a lot of work viewing Syria’s games and we've broken down some clips,” said Guiao. "We looked at every advantage we can exploit against them. We want to make a good lasting impression in our final game in the Asian Games."
The Syrians are coming off a 76-66 win over the host Indonesians Tuesday to set up the clash with the Philippines, which manhandled Japan, 113-80, on the same day.
Unlike China’s speed and size and Korea’s outside shooting, the Syrians don’t pose much of a threat to the Jordan Clarkson-led Nationals, but the team still went through a two-hour practice on Thursday at the GOR Cempaka Putih, more than an hour away from the Athletes’ Village to solidify their plays.
“We couldn’t ask anything more from the players,” said Guiao, back coaching in the international scene nine years since guiding the Powerade Pilipinas squad to a seventh-place finish in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship – a time when the PBA-backed squad has no naturalized player reinforcing the squad.
This time around, Guiao boasts of a legitimate NBA player in Clarkson, who he says is the best player in these games.
The fiery NLEX mentor has also been able to bring the best out of Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger and even Poy Erram in the quadrennial meet’s basketball event.
“We’ve seen how Jordan can explode at any given time, but we’ve also seen how efficient he could become if he will get his teammates more involved. We saw how Standhardinger, Erram, Pringle and Paul Lee contributed to our last two wins and we’ll do the same against Syria,” added Guiao. – Rappler.com