Shorthanded Gilas braces vs behemoth China

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Gilas Pilipinas will be facing a bloody battle against the formidable champion China in the FIBA Asia Cup to be held from August 8 to 20 in Beirut, Lebanon according to its head coach Chot Reyes.

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“We are completely focused on getting the team together but the biggest problem is that we must beat China,” Reyes told reporters during a news conference organized by Chooks to Go on Saturday at the Marco Polo Hotel in Ortigas City.

“Hopefully we find a way to beat China because we must top our group to have a better position in the quarterfinals,” he added. “It’s going to be a different China team now. They have two national teams that made our scouting hard.”

Gilas will be jumping into the fray without the naturalized player Andray Blatche.

Reyes, who started priming up Gilas last month for the 2017 FIBA Asia Cup and the 29th Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, said China’s presence in Group B made things tough.

The former TNT KaTropa coach in the Philippine Basketball Association explained that China now has two agile seven-footer cagers that will support veteran playmaker Guo Ailun.

Besides China, the Philippines need to slip past Iraq and Qatar in the preliminary round in Group B.

The Gilas members are the 6’11 center June Mar Fajardo, Raymond Almazan, Filipino-German Christian Standhardinger, Jayson Castro, Terrence Romeo, Jio Jalalon, Roger Pogoy, Matthew Wright, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Japeth Aguilar and Carl Bryan Cruz.

Ed Daquioag was designated practice player.

The Philippines lost to China in the championship round of 2015 FIBA Asia Cup in Changsha, China.

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