New Zealand v India in the FIBA Qualifiers opener
Gilas without two-youbest point guard Jayson Castro
GILAS Pilipinas relishes a chance to scout and prepare as New Zealand and India take center stage in the opener of Group A matches in the Asian qualifiers for the 2023 International Federation World Cup Basketball (FIBA) at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Philippine team, reduced to spectator status for the moment after the withdrawal of its opponent of the first day South Korea, will not play until tomorrow against India at 3 p.m.
India, led by NBA G League star Princepal Singh, and New Zealand also lock horns at 3pm today before meeting on Monday for the final day of the window.
Gilas meanwhile, will take a break on Saturday before returning to action against New Zealand on Sunday at 7 p.m.
The Nationals were supposed to play a dreaded four-game in five-day schedule through Monday, but South Korea pulled out at the last minute due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns in their squad before departure for the Philippines.
Gilas is expected to name his final 12-man roster ahead of each game against India and New Zealand from the 15-man squad he brought to the Novotel-Smart Araneta Coliseum bubble earlier this week.
Six players from coach Chot Reyes’ TnT Tropang Giga frame the cast of Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosario, Poy Erram, Kelly Williams, Gab Banal and Kib Montalbo.
Two-time Asia’s top playmaker Jayson Castro is the notable absence from the list that also features Japanese B.League stalwarts Thirdy Ravena and Dwight Ramos, as well as naturalized player Ange Kouame.
Rounding out the squad are young guns Juan Gomez de Liaño, Lebron Lopez, Will Navarro, Jaydee Tungcab, Tzaddy Rangel and NorthPort ace Robert Bolick.
“Our preparation is our health to stay mentally and emotionally focused no matter the schedule,” Reyes said. — John Bryan Ulanda