Gilas Pilipinas wants no less than an emphatic win against Syria to end its roller-coaster campaign on a high in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A win will give the hastily-formed squad fifth place, which will improve the seventh rank of the Marcus Douthit-reinforced Gilas Pilipinas team four years ago during the Incheon games.
For head coach Yeng Guiao, capping the team’s campaign here with a big win would be a nice gift to basketball-loving Filipinos, who were taken aback by the suspensions handed on Gilas Pilipinas players and coaches following their brawl-marred game against Australia during their Fiba World Qualifier.
“We didn’t practice on Wednesday, but we still did a lot of work viewing Syria’s games and broken down some clips. We looked at every advantage we can exploit against them,” said Guiao.
“We want to make a good lasting impression in our final game in the Asian Games.”
The Syrians are coming off a 76-66 win over the host Indonesians on Tuesday to set up the clash with the Philippines, which manhandled Japan, 113-80, on the same day.
Unlike China’s speed and size and Korea’s outside shooting, the Syrians do not pose as much of a threat to the Jordan Clarkson-led nationals. Still, the team went through a two-hour practice on Thursday at the GOR Cempaka Putih, more than an hour from the Athletes’ Village to solidify their plays.
“We couldn’t ask anything more from the players,” said Guiao, who is back coaching on the international scene nine years since guiding the Powerade Pilipinas squad to a seventh place finish in the 2009 FIBA Asia Championship, at a time when the PBA-backed squad had no naturalized player reinforcing the squad.
This time around, Guiao boasts a legitimate NBA player in Clarkson, saying he is the best player in these games.
The fiery NLEX mentor has also been able to bring the best out of Stanley Pringle, Christian Standhardinger, and even Poy Erram in the quadrennial meet’s basketball event.
“We’ve seen how Jordan can explode at any given time, but we’ve also seen how efficient he could become if he will get his teammates more involved.
“We saw how Standhardinger, Erram, Pringle, and Paul Lee contributed to our last two wins and we’ll do the same against Syria,” added Guiao.
Gametime is 6:30 p.m. (7:30 p.m. in Manila) at the Gelora Bung Karno Basketball Hall.