• Undermanned Gilas faces Australia today


    Gilas Pilipinas battles Australia today at the start of the second window of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Asian Qualifiers without playmaker Jayson Castro and Jio Jalalon at the Margaret Arena in Melbourne, Australia.

    Game time is set 4:30 p.m. (Philippine time).

    Gilas coach Chot Reyes announced on Wednesday that the 12-man team that will play against Australia will be composed of Kiefer Ravena, Kevin Alas, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood, Calvin Abueva, Carl Bryan Cruz, Abu Tratter, Japeth Aguilar, June Mar Fajardo and Andray Blatche.

    Gilas coach Chot Reyes PHOTO BY RUSSELL PALMA

    “Well as you know, Jayson (Castro) twisted his ankle against Phoenix and Ginebra. And as of yesterday, he tried to go hard in last night’s practice but it is still not there at all,” said Reyes via ESPN 5.

    “So we decided it wasn’t worth the risk so Jayson will sit out together with Jio (Jalalon) who is feeling a slight pain on his leg. We just decided to play guys without any nagging injury at this point.”

    Without his top point guard Castro, Reyes is expected to lean on Ravena and Alas against the taller Australians.

    “They (Ravena and Alas) are both playing really well in the PBA,” he added. “Kiefer accounted himself very well in the first window. It is hard not having our top point guard in the second window but it is an opportunity for Kiefer to step in and also for Kevin to get a lot more minutes than he usually gets.”

    Reyes added they would use the same fast-paced game against Australia.

    “Who knows? Maybe we catch them in their off night that will allow us to be more competitive. Australia got size and speed. We just have to find little ways hopefully to throw them off their rhythm a little bit,” he concluded.

    Australia’s 12-man line-up is composed of Daniel Kicker, Kevin Lisch, Angus Brandt, Chris Goulding, Matt Hodgson, Jason Cadee, Mitch McCarron, Mitch Creek, Nick Kay, Nathan Sobey, Cameron Gliddon and Jesse Wagstaff.

    Australia and the Philippines both hold 2-0 win-loss records.

    Gilas beat Japan 77-71, and Taiwan 90-83, in the first window.

    After the game against Australia, Gilas will return to Manila to prepare for a rematch against Japan on February 25 at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.


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