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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Romeo’s possible absence a ‘blessing in disguise’ for Ravena, Alas, says Guiao

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Due to a right knee injury, Terrence Romeo has become a big question mark for SMART Gilas Pilipinas, especially now that the team is about to enter the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers this November.

But for Road Warriors head coach Yeng Guiao, the prolific scorer’s possible no-show might just be a huge opportunity for the other guys, especially for Kiefer Ravena and Kevin Alas, his players with the NLEX Road Warriors.

“It could be a blessing in disguise,” opined the former national team head coach, after the Road Warriors’ exhibition match with SMART Gilas on Saturday morning at the Meralco Gym in Pasig City in which they lost, 95-87.

“Of course they will miss Terrence. But Kiefer’s going to be there, and si Kevin could be a candidate. Siyempre paborito ko dahil player ko yung dalawa,” added Guiao, who coached the national team back in 2008.

“Matutuwa kami kung makakapasok sila sa 12-man lineup.”

Both the second-generation cagers are strong candidates for the 12-man team that will face Japan in Tokyo for the November 24 curtain-raiser of the WCQ, all thanks to their consistent showings in practices.

And despite the Globalport Batang Pier star’s absence, Guiao has faith in coach Chot Reyes and Co. that this current batch of Gilas — who are vying for a spot in the 2019 World Cup — has what it takes to do what needs to be done.

“I’m pretty confident Coach Chot and his staff are going to be able to accomplish the mission.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Seeing Jayson Castro’s heroics brought back memories to ‘fan’ Terrence Romeo

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When SMART Gilas Pilipinas took on Chinese-Taipei in its first homestand in the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers, Terrence Romeo, one of the team’s pool members, was sitting at the patron section of the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The scoring sensation that lit it up during the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup could not join his brothers-at-arm this time around as he is nursing a right knee injury.

Nagthe-therapy. Pagkatapos ng therapy, strengthening,” the 25-year-old said, giving an update on how he is doing. “Ibibigay ko yung best ko para makabalik agad. Di natin puwedeng madaliin baka mamaya di 100-percent.

“Mas okay na yung one hundred-percent na alam nating may maitutulong tayo sa team.”

Though still recovering, Romeo, who was sitted beside Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascarinas, was just like everyone else during the game. He was seen cheering wildly, shouting his heart out to show his support for Gilas. By the end of the night, he lost his voice. Moreover, he was happy.

“Nakaka-miss na maglaro sa harap ng mga kababayan natin, nakaka-miss yung sigawan nila. Pero tuwang tuwa ako kasi parang nag-flashback ako nung kabataan ko na pag nanonood ako ng mga idol ko, napapatayo ako sa upuan, kumakaway ako sa kanila,” beamed the four-year pro after the Philippines’ 90-83 triumph.

“Para akong bata na pinapanood ang mga idol ko. Masarap.”

One of his best “fan” moments though was seeing Jayson Castro lead the Philippines once again to victory. Dubbed as the best point guard in Asia, Castro finished with 20 points, four rebounds, and four assists.FIBA WCQ Gilas vs. Taipei - Castro-0659

Even if he has played with Castro multiple times already, Romeo admitted that he is still a fanboy of his.

“Parang bumalik ako sa college na nanonood ako sa dorm, pinapanood ko yung TNT, tuwang tuwa ako sa ginagawa ni kuya Jayson. Kanina, every time na nakaka-score si kuya Jayson, talagang binibigay ko ang lahat sa pagchee-cheer,” Romeo furthered. “Imagine, naging teammate ko yun, naging roommate ko, ang dami kong natutunan sa kanya, tapos napapanood ko siya.

“Sobrang thankful ko na hindi pa nag-reretire si kuya Jayson.”

Come the second leg of the qualifiers, every fan is hoping to see Castro and Romeo together again on the court.

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Kiefer Ravena gets surprise text from Terrence Romeo after Japan game: ‘Stay composed’

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Kiefer Ravena — who has been with the Gilas program since he was 17 years old — admitted that he was surprised with the level of competition during his debut with the seniors team last Friday, when SMART Gilas Pilipinas faced Japan.

“Kahit ako nagulat eh,” admitted the 24-year-old, who finished with just one point, two rebounds, and an assist during the Philippines’ 77-71 win. “Sabi ko na lang kailangan talaga you have to suck it up and just contribute. If I can’t score or I’m not the main scorer of the team, I have to make stops, try to get steals, try to get easy points on lay-ups.”

Playing off the bench and providing spark were the roles previously played by scoring sensation Terrence Romeo. Romeo was not able to suit up for the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers due to a right knee injury.

With this, Ravena needed to at least supply the same energy that Romeo provides to the team.

After the game, Ravena shared that he received a random text.

“Nagulat ako, Terrence gave me a suprise text. Sabi niya, I need to stay composed mas lalo sa mga ganitong laro,” Ravena told Tiebreaker Times.

“Nung pinapanood ko kasi siya parang hindi siya e,” Romeo added during the Chooks-to-Go-hosted thanksgiving dinner for the team.

“Sabi ko lang, let the game come to him.”

Come the Chinese-Taipei game on Monday evening, Ravena showed why he is the Phenom.FIBA WCQ Gilas vs. Taipei - Ravena-0305

SMART Gilas was down by as much as 5-19 before the skipper of Chooks-to-Go Pilipinas — together with June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, and Romeo’s favorite running-mate Calvin Abueva — was plugged into the game. And the quintet created magic on the court, slowly chipping down Chinese-Taipei’s lead, with Ravena providing seven markers during that spurt.

“Well I just tried to contribute in whatever way I can, whether playing defense with the point guard just to make sure when Kuya Jayson [Castro] rests, ‘di dumidikit kalaban or humahabol kami,” said the second overall pick in the 2017 PBA Draft.

“We’re just about giving energy, kami nina Calvin, nina Pogoy. Yun naman yung role namin sa team.”

Ravena finished the game with nine points on 2-for-5 shooting from the field, 5-for-6 from the foul stripe to go along with five assists. His outing drew praise from the best point guard in Asia himself, Jayson Casro.

“Sobrang ganda ng laro ni Kiefer. Actually isa siya sa mga nag-change ng laro, pati si June Mar. Sana magtuloy-tuloy na kasi nakuha na niya rhythm niya,” Castro remarked after SMART Gilas’ 90-83 win.

But the person who was more proud of Ravena than Castro was Romeo himself, who had been sitting in the patron section, cheering wildly with the crowd.

“Proud na proud talaga ako sa kanya.”

FIBA WCQ Gilas vs. Taipei - Terrence Romeo

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

MVP elated with SMART Gilas’ 2-0 start, but remains wary of Australia

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Philippine basketball patron and business tycoon Manny V. Pangilinan was absolutely pleased with how SMART Gilas Pilipinas had swept Japan and Chinese Taipei in the first leg of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

“Given the circumstances under which the team was formed, yes of course,” said the Chairman of SMART Communications after the team had downed the Taiwanese, 90-83, Monday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

“I’m very happy for the team, very proud of them. I’m sure, FIBA would notice that we done well despite.”

However, the amiable executive is not celebrating too much just yet, knowing that the second leg of the Qualifiers will be much tougher.

The Philippines will head into the Qualifiers’ second leg to face world powerhouse Australia on the road on February 22.

“Mabigat yun, mabigat yun. It’s a very good team,” said Pangilinan of the Boomers, a team that is ranked ninth in the world.

And that is why the 71-year-old philantrophist hopes to see SMART Gilas find ample time to prepare against the Australians, who have also swept the first window with wins over Chinese Taipei (104-66) and the Akatsuki Five of Japan (82-58).

“So, if we are gonna get serious about competing against Australia, we have to give enough time for the team to jell,” said Pangilinan. “I’m not a coach but I would love to at least a month to prepare for the competition together of course.

“Otherwise, our chances are not good against their team.”

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2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers

Chooks-to-Go honors 10-year SMART Gilas veteran Gabe Norwood

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Right after SMART Gilas Pilipinas’ win over Chinese-Taipei Monday evening, Bounty Agro Ventures Inc. president Ronald Mascariñas gathered the entire team and the members of the press for a thanksgiving dinner at Barrio Fiesta in Ali Mall.

Mascariñas, one of the chief boosters of the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas, not only gave the players their allowances and incentives during the get-together, but also honored two players that have been exemplary both on and off the court.

Together with Gilas head coach Chot Reyes, Mascariñas gave the Sportsmanship award for the first window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers to Allein Maliksi.Allein Maliksi-2423

Though he did not see playing time in the first two games of the qualifiers, the 30-year-old Maliksi did not show any signs of bitterness all throughout. Instead, he used this opportunity to cheer on the team from the bench, providing the added boost that Gilas badly needed to be able to carve out the team’s two wins.

Maliksi was given PHP 50,000.00 on top of his allowance and incentive.

In a surprise, the first-ever Chooks-to-Go Loyalty Award was also handed out.

The first recipient of the “ironman” honor was Gabe Norwood, as 2017 marked his 10th year of service to the program.

“It’s humbling, very humbling,” shared the 6-foot-6 swingman. “I can’t believe it’s been 10 years right? It’s just an honor to be a part of this team, part of this group.

“Thank you to Chooks-to-Go for this. I really appreciate it,” added the Gilas veteran, who averaged 7.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 3.5 assists during the first window of the WCQ.

Though he had been part of the teams that won silver back in the 2013 and 2015 editions of the FIBA Asia Championship, Norwood sees this batch as something special. And this is because the majority of the young players from this crop were inspired bythe 2013 team’s triumph in the Asia Championship.

“The young guys are awesome. They bring a lot of energy to this team,” Norwood beamed.

“They are not just the future of Gilas but also the future of Philippine basketball.”

But at 32, Norwood does not know how many years he has left to serve the country. That is why he is relishing this experience and imparting everything he can to the next generation of Gilas players.

“Time is undefeated so I’m just here, trying to enjoy every moment,” he said. “The format really helps but we don’t know how the PBA will work with it.

“But I’m just going to be here, enjoying every moment.”

Norwood took home a check worth PHP 60,000.00.

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