FIBA World Cup 2019 Asian Qualifiers: A brand new Philippine team resumes the fight
- The quest begins for Team Pilipinas tonight against Iran
Although changing horses in the middle of the race has some disadvantages, in the campaign of the Philippine national basketball team, formerly known as Gilas Pilipinas, a few unfortunate circumstances made it necessary for a drastic change that could save the campaign of clinching a spot in FIBA World Cup 2019 to be held in China next year.
Marred by the forgettable "basketbrawl" match against Australia in the last window, the quest of the newly monikered Team Pilipinas resumes with practically a brand new lineup, after the suspension of the ten players that took part in the fisticuffs and former coach Chot Reyes, who just announced his resignation a couple of days ago.
The success of Coach Yeng Guiao, who steered a hastily formed team to a fifth-place finish in the last Asian Games, made the selection process easier for Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas to tap him in this next window, specifically against Iran tonight, and Qatar on Monday. And with the voluntary resignation of the former coach, Yeng Guiao is touted to be promoted as the permanent coach throughout the remainder of the Asian qualifiers.
Like a breath of fresh air, the change was embraced by the entire basketball community in the Philippines as the stakeholders are now more united than ever in assuring the millions of basketball-crazy followers of their maximum support to the cause of Team Pilipinas, starting with the declaration of the PBA to make all the players in the professional league available to be part of the pool. The selected players responded by being 100 per cent present in all of their practices.
From a pool of 16 players, the 12 chosen players to carry the fight for tonight's campaign are Gabe Norwood, Asi Taulava, Allein Maliksi, Scottie Thompson, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Paul Lee, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga, Poy Erram, Ian Sangalang, and Christian Standhardinger.
They may not be in a must-win situation against powerhouse Iran, but a victory tonight will definitely do wonders to their quest of regaining Asian basketball glory.Published 13 Sep 2018, 18:20 IST