Kazakhstan’s youthful head coach Renatas Kurilionokas still remembers the scoreline of their humiliating defeat at the hands of a hastily-formed Gilas Pilipinas in the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia back in August 16.
“Thirty-seven. 59-96, I know,“ he grinned.
The Lithuanian tactician cited fatigue for why that game became a one-sided affair. Kurilionokas revealed that he and his wards didn’t have enough time to adjust to Jakarta, as they had only arrived the night prior to that match.
“We had problems with flight,” he said.
“In the Asian Games, we came just eight o’ clock [in the evening] and we played like ten o’clock in the morning.”
Kazakhstan and Gilas will lock horns anew in the fifth window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Friday. And Kurilionokas assured that there will be no repeat of what happened in the Asiad.
“I’m sure that it will be different game,” the 28-year-old vowed.
Kurilionokas – who is also an assistant coach with Lithuanian club BC Astana – has made few changes to the lineup he used in the quadriennial meet, saying that he will only have two new players in Friday’s game.
The Kazakhs are pressed to come out of the Mall of Asia Arena with the W, as they’re currently at 3-5. But it’s easier said than done, as a hostile Filipino crowd will surely come out and distract them as much as possible.
As daunting as it is, however, Kurilionokas said that it might not be much of a problem – at least for him.
“Yeah, I know this. I saw a little bit in the games, I watched when you played here. I told the players that it will be very crowded. We should be, first of all, ready mentally. For me it’s not new because I’m from Lithuania, I know that,” he said.
“I mean in Kaunas in Euroleague, fifteen-thousand… crowded every time. Every game, every time, tickets sold out. So for me it’s nothing new, but for players maybe, some of them, it will be something new.
“For young players, it should be maybe a little bit stress. I hope for when it will be like a jump ball in the first quarter, everything will go on and we just will think about the basketball,” added Kurilionokas.
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