After stunning defending champion China on Wednesday, Gilas Pilipinas shoots for its second straight victory as it clashes with Iraq today in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asia Cup at the Beirut Nouhad Nawfal Sports Complex in Beirut, Lebanon.
The Filipinos face the Iraqis at 9 p.m. (Manila time) with the former entering the match with full of confidence after scoring an impressive 96-87 win against the world No. 14 China.
The Chinese try to rebound from that loss when they face Qatar at 6:30 p.m. in the first Group B encounter. The Qataris also lost their opening game to Iraq, 66-75.
Gilas 5 head coach Chot Reyes hopes his wards can keep their focus against Iraq, which will be led by its naturalized player Kevin Galloway who had 16 points and eight rebounds in the game against Qatar.
“It’s only one win. The important game is against Iraq,” said Gilas coach Chot Reyes in an interview by www.sports5.com.
A victory by the No. 27-ranked Philippines will assure them of at least a spot in the second round. A sweep by the Filipino cagers of their Group B matches will put them automatically in the quarterfinals stage.
Terrence Romeo starred in Gilas’ huge upset over China, scoring 26 points in 21 minutes. The GlobalPort point guard will again lead the PH 5’s charge along with Jayson Castro, Raymond Almazan, Matthew Wright, Christian Standhardinger and Japeth Aguilar.
Calvin Abueva is expected to be back to help Gilas’ cause after getting tossed out of the game late in the first quarter against China. Abueva was ejected after giving Chinese forward Li Gen a headbutt.
JOSEF T. RAMOS