After leading the Filipinos to a narrow victory against the Japanese on Friday, veteran guard Jayson Castro said they are not underestimating their next opponent—Taiwan—in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers.
“We can’t relax against Taiwan because all its players are good. At the same time, every game counts in order for us to move on to the second round,” Castro told The Manila Times on Saturday in a phone interview after the team’s arrival from Tokyo, Japan.
Castro was instrumental in Gilas’ 77-71 win over Japan. He finished with 20 points—including the crucial trey in the final minute on top of seven rebounds and six assists – en route to Gilas’ first win in the Asian qualifiers.
As a veteran of international campaigns, Castro acknowledged the magnitude of his responsibility as the team dives deeper into their quest to qualify for the FIBA World Cup.
“As a veteran, I need to do the right thing because most of my teammates are young, so I have to set good examples for them,” he added.
Head coach Chot Reyes immediately conducted a training session at Kerry’s Sports in Bonifacio Global City in Taguig late Saturday afternoon
Reserve players Carl Bryan Cruz, Mac Belo and Raymond Almazan might see action on Monday as Reyes could make changes in the line-up against the Taiwanese squad.
Gilas 5 will take on Taiwan on Monday at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Taiwanese are expected to go all-out against the Filipinos to recover from an embarrassing 66-104 loss to the Australians in their first game in the qualifiers also on Friday in Taipei.