India and New Zealand oppose Gilas

MANILA, Philippines — Fans will get a chance to see how a revamped Gilas Pilipinas team fares in competition when the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup Asian Qualifiers take place at Araneta Coliseum from February 24-28.

As hosts, the Philippines are already assured of a place in the FIBA ​​Basketball World Cup 2023. Despite this, there is still intense pressure for the team to win as the Group A matches will be played at home. Gilas has also come under scrutiny after recent changes in his coaching staff.

What was supposed to be a hectic four-game schedule in five days became lighter for Gilas when the COVID-stricken South Korean side announced on Tuesday that they would not travel to Manila for qualifying.

Fans were looking to watch the two games between the Philippines and Korea, especially after former Korean Basketball League MVP Kim Sun-hyung, 33, publicly said he was planning to move on. avenge Gilas.

Despite missing naturalized big man Ra Guna and American NCAA star Lee Hyun-jung, South Korea would still have been a handful with the likes of 6ft 3in shooting fullback Lee Dae-sung , the 6-foot-6 power forward. 19-year-old center Lee Seoung-hyun, Yeo Jun Seok, who averaged 12.3 points and 4 rebounds in last year’s FIBA ​​games at former PBA Asian importer Clark Lee Gwan Hee who played for Phoenix, and 6-foot-1 guard Heo Ung, the son of legendary Korean star Hur Jae.

The Philippines, 33rd in the FIBA ​​rankings, will only play two games. They will face India on Friday, February 25, at 6 p.m. Coach Chot Reyes and his troops hit the hard court again on Sunday February 27 when they take on New Zealand at 7pm.

Here’s a look at the two teams Gilas will face:

India (FIBA Ranking: No. 80)

There was a time when India lived and died with just one player, 6ft 5in small forward Vishesh Bhriguvanshi. The longtime national team skipper, 30, is the first Indian to be signed by Australia’s National Basketball League after being inked by the Adelaide 36ers in 2017, although he failed to dress for the club.

The Indian team, known as the Young Cagers, live up to the moniker as they feature in a roster with an average age of 23. Seven of their players are 21 and under.

The Indians are sure to be tall as they average 6 feet 6 inches tall. Five of their players are 6ft 8in and taller, with three towers being at least 6ft 10in tall.

India will be coached by someone very familiar to Filipino fans: Serbian tactician Veselin Matic, who was the coach of the Lebanese team that lost to Tab Baldwin’s Gilas team in the FIBA ​​Championship ​Asia 2015. Matic knows the Asian basketball landscape as he also led the coaching reins of Iran and Syria.

Matic will call on three reliable players to form a powerful combination with Bhriguvanshi. They are their twin towers of Amritpal Singh and Princepal Singh, and 6-foot-2 playmaker Muin Bek Hafeez.

Amritpal, 31, is a 6-foot-10 center who has been with the national team since 2011. He played 24 games for the Sydney Kings in the NBL during the 2017-18 season. He also played professionally in Japan.

Princepal, 21, is Kai Sotto’s friend and teammate on the NBA G League Ignite team. He signed a two-year developmental player contract with the New Zealand Breakers, who also play in Australia’s NBL.

Hafeez is an intoxicating and scoring court general who was converted into a playmaker from his natural shooting guard position by Matic, who saw in Hafeez someone who could stabilize the ship for the Indian team.

New Zealand (FIBA Ranking: No. 27)

The Tall Blacks have assembled a relatively untested 14-man crew, but that doesn’t mean the team will be lacking in experience.

Rob Loe, 30, a 6ft 11in center for the New Zealand Breakers, first saw action for the national team as the youngest player at the 2009 FIBA ​​Oceania Championships. Dion Prewster, 32, is a 6ft 5in versatile winger who made his debut for the Tall Blacks in 2015. He was New Zealand’s NBL MVP in 2021 and currently plays for Melbourne United in Australia’s NBL.

Former New Zealand NBL Most Improved Player Ethan Rusbatch is a 6-foot-5 forward who played in the 2019 FIBA ​​World Cup. Six-foot-seven Tom Vodanovich was New Zealand’s 2020 NBL MVP. Vodanovich, 27, a teammate of Gilas prospect Ken Tuffin for the Wellington Saints, has been with the Tall Blacks since 2018.

The rest of the team is 25 and under.

Two youngsters who deserve careful consideration are 23-year-old Taki Fahrensohn and 18-year-old Ben Gold. Fahrensohn is a 6ft 7in small forward who averages 12.3 points per game for Ehingen Urspring in the German second division. Gold is a 6-foot-10 unicorn and an NBA Global Academy product. He recently committed to the US NCAA Division 1 Marquette School.

Four other Tall Blacks play professionally in Australia – 6ft 8in small forward Brayden Inger (Cairns Taipans), 6ft 6in small forward Hyrum Harris (Adelaide 36ers), 6ft 2in Taylor Britt (Perth Wildcats) . , and former La Salle Green Archer Taane Samuel (Brisbane Bullets).

Rounding out the squad are 6-foot-9 center Tai Wynyard and point guards Richie Roger, Jayden Bezzant and Joe Cook-Green. –

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