THE FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers is hitting the homestretch from June 16-20, 2021, to be held in Clark, Pampanga. It is a chance to watch Filipino basketball as the Gilas Pilipinas try to punch their ticket to the FIBA Asia Cup. With a 3-0 slate entering this stage, Gilas Pilipinas needs to win one of their last three matches to advance to the FIBA Asia Cup.
Joining the Gilas Pilipinas are teams from China, Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Indonesia. Gilas will play Korea twice and Indonesia for Bracket A.
This iteration of Gilas is not much like the pro-laden Gilas squads we have fielded before. This current squad is a young group of cadets under the helm of Coach Tab Baldwin. Leading the charge for the "cadets" is Dwight Ramos. He has emerged as the new star of this Gilas squad after his performance in Bahrain. A welcome addition would be naturalized Ange Kouame and Kai Sotto. The height and length of these two young players will greatly help anchor our defense and offense in the paint. It is a relatively young team at an average age of 24 years but not inexperienced.
Their first outing on June 16 will be against Korea at 6 p.m., Philippine Time. They will also be facing a young Korean squad. Both teams are sporting spotless cards, and only the top 2 teams in the bracket will advance to the FIBA Asia Cup.
The other team in their bracket, Indonesia, is already assured of the FIBA Asia slot by hosting the event. It makes it a battle for the top spot in bracket A between Gilas and Korea.
With an illustrious history of going against each other, we can surely expect fireworks during their two matchups in Clark. Will the "Korean curse" haunt our young Gilas squad, or are they up to the challenge, drawing inspiration from the classic 2013 win and break the five-game losing streak against them since then?
Here's wishing Gilas Pilipinas all the best for their Philippine bubble campaign. Laban Pilipinas!
Notes from the sidelines:
A week from now, coaches, athletes, and sports personalities' experiences during the pandemic and lockdowns will be shared via the book, Winning Still. It is for everyone to read and draw inspiration. Congratulations to the Winning Still writers; continue being beacons of hope as we progress to a better sports community.