Many have doubted Gilas Pilipinas when it took on the formidable Jordan squad on its home turf but Chot Reyes and his wards had proven that all of its past moves and decisions– some of which drew flak from its angry fans – were in fact not in vain and just part of the whole preparation towards the FIBA World Cup next year.
Gilas had shown progress as the once hastily built lineup gave some glimpse of chemistry in its 74-66 win over Jordan last Friday, Nov.11.
After the strings of misfortunes, Gilas did look like one cohesive unit on the floor during that game and Reyes and his charges are in no way letting the momentum slip from their hands when they gun for a sweep of the fifth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers against Saudi Arabia in another road game at the King Abdullah Sports City in Jeddah at 12 a.m. Monday, Nov. 14 (Manila time).
Saudi Arabia may not look as formidable as the Jordan squad, but Gilas Pilipinas is not leaving anything to chance, especially that when the Filipinos defeated the Arabs, 84-46, in August, it was at home and a legitimate NBA talent in Jordan Clarkson was in tow.
That would not be the case this time around so Reyes will be banking on the same familiarity and chemistry he felt Gilas had shown in its game against Jordan.
“It's not the first time that we've come together and yes there were a few new faces that we wanted to see in the team but by and large these guys already have a bunch of shared experiences,” said Reyes.
Scottie Thompson and CJ Perez felt exactly at home manning the point for Gilas as they spearheaded the offense for the Filipinos while Japeth Aguilar, Ange Kouame and Kai Sotto formed the stronghold inside the paint.
Thompson also elevated his MVP play in the PBA to the international stage, scattering eight points, 13 rebounds and eight assists while Sotto topscored the team with 16 points.
Determined in their home stand against the Filipinos, however, are the Arabs who are also coming off a rousing 85-54 triumph over India last Friday.
Khalid Abdel Gabar and Hazim Bader Aljohar formed a deadly one-two punch for Saudi Arabia finishing with 16 points apiece. Gabar was the top scorer for Saudi in its loss against Gilas in the fourth window while Aljohar, who drained four triples against the Indians, was not in their lineup in Manila.