Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes admitted that there’s a remote chance the Philippines will beat Australia at the start of the second window of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers on February 22, in Melbourne.
Reyes said it is a must to beef up the conditioning of Gilas 5, which will host Japan at the Mall of Asia Arena on February 25, three days after their match with the Australians.
Both the Philippines and Australia are unbeaten in Group B and the winner of the February 22 game will take the pole of the bracket.
“We know there is a very remote or slim chance to beat Australia. So, the bigger concern really is Japan. From Melbourne, we are going to leave there by 23 and we’re going to arrive here in the country by afternoon or evening then we will play on the 25th,” said Reyes.
“So, we really need to think seriously about our conditioning and preparation against Japan,” he added.
Like the Filipinos, the Australians swept their first two games in the first window after dominating Chinese Taipei, 104-66, and Japan, 82-58, for a 2-0 start. The PH 5 struggled to get a win against Japan (77-71) and Chinese Taipei (90-83).
Only the top three teams in each group will advance to the second round where they will join the other nine squads for another qualifying stage to be held from September to February 2019. The top seven teams in the second round will move to the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China.
Gilas resumed its training last Monday at the Meralco gym where Reyes also invited the future members of the PH 5 that might comprise the national squad in the 2023 edition of World Cup.
Reyes just named his 16-man pool for the second window, including naturalized player Andray Blatche.
The pool for the second window includes Jayson Castro, Kiefer Ravena, Jio Jalalon, Kevin Alas, June Mar Fajardo, Roger Pogoy, Raymond Almazan, Carl Bryan Cruz, Calvin Abueva, Mac Belo, Troy Rosario, Matthew Wright, Japeth Aguilar, Allein Maliksi and Gabe Norwood.
Blatche is expected to join the squad next month.