Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin said that his wards are up to a tough challenge when they face Lebanon at 9:30 p.m. tonight in the knockout quarterfinals of 28th FIBA Asia Championship at the Changsha Social Work College gymnasium in Changsha, China.
“We have to be ready against them [Lebanon]. They have tough players and coaching staff, they are a good team. “Overall, they are a good,” Baldwin told The Manila Times on Wednesday in a phone interview.
Leading the Lebanese team is Jasmon Jovan Youngblood, who posted an average of 19.5 points and 1.5 steals per game in this Olympic qualifying tournament.
Youngblood will be supported by one of the team’s tallest players, the 6’8 Mohammad Ali Haidar and Wael Arakji.
Baldwin said that the Lebanese are accurate shooters.
“They have shooting guards and big men who have good size, good mobility and talent. We have to play aggressive defense against them,” he added. “I believe we can overcome them and move to the semifinals.”
Despite the impressive 5-1 performance of Gilas, Baldwin reminded his players to focus on their match against Lebanon.
“I don’t look beyond this game [Lebanon]. If we look further against Lebanon, we will be in trouble,” Baldwin said. “It will be irrelevant if we look to other games. Our main focus right now is Lebanon.”
“We will prepare the same way we prepared before,” he added. “We watch video and practice.”
Although Gilas lost to Palestine in the opening day, they won their next five games against Hong Kong, Kuwait, Japan, powerhouse Iran and India to emerge as the top team in Group E.
Veteran Jayson Castro with an average of 16.2 points and 2.3 assists per game is expected lead the Philippine team with the support of naturalized Filipino Andray Blatche, Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Dondon Hontiveros and Ranidel De Ocampo.