Little rest for the triumphant: Gilas plays China before flying out
Gilas Pilipinas was given a well-deserved day off, then returned to work on Tuesday as the Filipinos, after courageous and proud wins over South Korea, hope to capitalize on the recent Asian Cup qualifying wins Fiba (ACQ) and primer prepare for the decisive test that awaits him in Serbia.
The selection of the National Five youth ahead of the Olympic Qualifying Tournament (OQT) in the Serbian city of Belgrade is a friendly match with the Asian powerhouse of China on Wednesday.
“Every game we can get for these young men is extremely important and it will help us prepare,” said coach Tab Baldwin. “China are an elite Asian team so if we have the chance to play against them it will be great for us.”
Friendly with China
Gilas faces China at 4:30 p.m. before the Nationals leave for Serbia the next day.
As it turns out, China thinks the Philippines did well in ACQ.
“[Gilas] actually had some good games, ”said coach Du Feng, Baldwin’s counterpart. “I think the games we play against them will be a good experience for us before we play against our opponents.”
China brought a young team to the Clark bubble in Pampanga province. Together they are on average 24 years old, a few years older than Gilas’ 22. However, each has played in the Chinese Basketball Association, the country’s professional league.
The Chinese also swept their corner of the ACQ, effectively landing their ticket to the mainland meeting in Indonesia in August. Like the Filipinos, they are also preparing for their own OQT campaign, which will be held in Canada.
No one got to enjoy the friendlies more than Kai Sotto, the teenage prospect from the Philippines who trained with the Gilas pool just two days before plunging into the action.
“[I]individually and in terms of systems, he’s still learning, ”Baldwin said of Sotto. INQ
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