Gilas battles Indonesia in FIBA qualifiers

Published June 17, 2021, 10:42 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Kai Sotto (FIBA)

Gilas Pilipinas hopes to build on its dramatic win over South Korea when it battles Indonesia Friday night, June 18, in the FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center in Pampanga.

Nothing is at stake for the Philippines in the 6 p.m. match except wanting to see more improvements despite an 81-78 victory over old rival South Korea two nights ago on SJ Belangel’s buzzer-beating three.

Coach Tab Baldwin’s wards clinched a spot in the Asia Cup with the victory, but the veteran mentor would like to see Gilas perform the last two games of the continental qualifiers with the same determination that allowed them to beat South Korea.

The Philippines is on top of Group A with a perfect 4-0 record going into the Indonesia duel and the return match against South Korea scheduled for Sunday, June 20.

Indonesia sits in third spot in the group at 1-3 after opening the third window with a 104-81 loss to South Korea Wednesday, June 17.

Naturalized player Lester Prosper, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds against South Korea, will try to give Gilas a wake-up call and give Indonesia team of ex-Gilas mentor Rajko Toroman an upset win.

It will the first meeting of the two teams in the Asia Cup Qualifiers since Feb. 2020 when Gilas rolled to a 100-70 victory in Jakarta.

Minor changes were made in the 12-man lineup by activating Jordan Heading, LeBron Lopez and Geo Chiu in lieu of Mike Nieto, Jaydee Tungcab and Will Navarro.

Navarro was actually a last-minute cut for the Indonesia game while re-inserting Javi Gomez de Liano back in the lineup.

All eyes will be on Belangel, RJ Abarrientos, Dwight Ramos, Ange Kouame, Kai Sotto and Carl Tamayo, who were among those who impressed in the South Korean tussle.

Also part of the 12-man roster are team captain Isaac Go and Justine Baltazar.

Japan and Taiwan try to bounce back from their defeats to China in Group B when they meet in the first game inside the Clark bubble at 2:30 p.m.