The last time Tim Lewis was in Manila, it was in front of a packed house during the SEABA Championships.
Last May 16, 2017, Lewis was the head coach of Thailand. And against a sold-out SMART Araneta Coliseum, Gilas battered the Thais, 108-53.
But in his return to the fabled Big Dome, the now-Qatar head coach will figure in a different scenario. There will be no hostile crowd as the game will be held behind closed doors.
“I’m not sure how many closed door games have been played here in Manila,” wondered Lewis. “I think we were looking forward to playing in a packed environment, just for the experience and the atmosphere for the players.
“So it will be different, you’ll be able to hear everything we say, and I’m sure the game will have a different feel to it, it’s hard to say until we actually start playing,” the British mentor furthered.
“I’ve coached teams where we played in gyms with not many fans. Here, you don’t expect that though, especially when you’re playing against Gilas.”
Qatar – a team that has yet to beat the Philippines in their last two outings – will enter the game with their backs against the wall as it is situated with a 2-5 slate.
But making matters worse, the team has been riddled with injury.
Lewis still has one weapon on his side, though.
After the SEABA Championships, Lewis stayed in the Philippine to be a part-time consultant for the TNT Katropa and the Gilas Cadets. And he hopes that he can pass on this familiarity to his players come game day.
“I mean, obviously I was around with Chot [Reyes] and Gilas. It’s a different system now, some different players, but having seen them, being around TNT and being around the PBA, you get to have an idea of how these players play,” he shared.
“So it definitely helps.
“But ultimately it’s the players that are on the floor that gotta perform and do the job. So I can know everything about them, but whether we can transfer that, that’s the key,” he added.
But even if he is facing a different Gilas squad, Lewis knows that it’s going to be a tough day in the office for him and his team come Monday night.
“Any Gilas team is gonna be solid, they play in a strong lead, they’re well-coached. So I think it’s probably not a fair statement to say it’s a weak Gilas team. I think it’s a different Gilas team.”