Gilas Pilipinas resumes its bid for a seat in the 2019 FIBA World Cup as it plunges back into action in the group stage of the Asian Qualifiers this Friday night.
Led by naturalized player Andray Blatche and four-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, the nationals will take on Chinese Taipei in the third window of the eliminator at the Taipei Heping Basketball Gymnasium.
Securing a win will not be an easy task for coach Chot Reyes’ boys, though, as historically, Chinese Taipei has always given the Pinoys a hard time on the hardcourt.
In 2013, the Philippines tasted a heartbreaking 79-84 defeat to Chinese Taipei during group plays in the 2013 FIBA Asia Championship at the Mall of Asia Arena. A couple of years later, in their first faceoff in the World Cup qualifiers, Gilas narrowly came away with a 90-83 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Although already assured of a spot in the next round along with Australia (4-0), Gilas Pilipinas (3-1) must bring its A-game and pull out all the stops as Chinese Taipei is expected to push the Pinoys to the edge yet again. With just a half-game edge over Japan, Chinese Taipei is fighting for its life in Group B.
Besides Blatche and Fajardo, making up the Gilas 12 is Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy, Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Matthew Wright, Jio Jalalon, and Allein Maliksi.
Chinese Taipei, meanwhile, will bank on naturalized player Quincy Davis III and some of the top players from the Chinese Basketball Association like former Super Basketball League most valuable players Chou Yi-Hsiang and Liu Cheng, upcoming stars Chen Ying-Chun and Hu Long-Mao and veterans Tseng Wen-Ting and Yang Ching-Min
Tip-off is at 7 pm and will be aired live on ESPN5 with livestream on ESPN5.com.