Gilas Pilipinas will face Japan at 4:45 p.m. today at the start of the second round of the 28th FIBA Asia Championship at the Changsha Social Work College gymnasium in Changsha, China.
Gilas coach Tab Baldwin advised his wards to play hard against the Japanese who are known for fast play, tight defense and accurate shooting. He cautioned Gilas to watch out for the 6’9 power forward Joji Takeuchi.
“It is a big game for us, a game that we must win,” Baldwin told The Manila Times via overseas call on Saturday. “Japan has a fast line up starring Takeuchi, but I believe our players will play their very best tomorrow [Sunday].”
Takeuchi has an average of 14.7 points and 11.7 rebounds in the preliminary rounds. The other Japanese players to watch out for are veteran point guard Yuta Tabuse, 6’6 Gaku Arao, big man Ota Atsuya and guard Daiki Tanaka, among others.
Gilas won against Hong Kong (101-50) and Kuwait (110-64) but lost its opening game against Palestine (73-75). Veteran Filipino player Castro, known as the Asia’s best point guard, boasts of a scoring average of 15.7 points per game.
Besides Castro, Baldwin will be banking on the talents of Andray Blatche, Paul Asi Taulava, Dondon Hontiveros, Jean Marc Pingris, Ranidel De Ocampo, Joachim Thoss, Matt Roser-Ganuelas, Terrence Romeo, Gabe Norwood, JC Intal and Calvin Abueva in the Philippines’ campaign against the Japanese.
After the bout against Japan, Gilas, with a FIBA ranking of 31 is set to battle powerhouse Iran and India in Group E.