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GAME TIME: Gilas Pilipinas vs. Dominican Republic

by Kiko Cueto

IS Utah Jazz’ Jordan Clarkson and NBA prospect Kai Sotto the answer to the Philippines’ quest of moving further into the next phase of the FIBA World Cup?

That remains to be seen though as the tip-off is at 8pm tonight, with no less than President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., serving as the main guest to witness, in a word: “puso.”

While Team Captain Japeth Aguilar said that the 2023 version of the Gilas Pilipinas is “more talented” and “totally different,” they need to develop the heart of a champion as well as good camaraderie.

Gilas (Ranked 40 by FIBA) will face three familiar teams in the group stages of the 2023 FIBA World Cup. They are the Dominican Republic (23) scheduled today, August 25 at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan; Angola (41) on August 27 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum; and Italy (10) also at the Smart Araneta Coliseum .

Courtesy SBP


History is not favorable to the Philippine Team though. In the 2020 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade last July 1, 2021, the Philippines bowed to the Dominican Republic, 94-67.

But Dominican Republic coach Nestor Garcia said they are not taking Gilas Pilipinas lightly, having homecourt and a boisterous fan base to pump up the national team.

According to Garcia, while they have NBA star Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Gilas has Clarkson and Sotto.

Courtesy SBP

Garcia said he expects the 55,000 seating capacity of the Philippine Arena to be jam packed as it is expected to  break the Fiba attendance record of 32,616.

“Our first game is against you,” Garcia said when interviewed upon their arrival last Monday.

Courtesy: SBP


So how can the Gilas Pilipinas win?

Experts said that the Philippines should impose their game from the jump ball. The rhythm and transition should be dictated by the Gilas Team. The shooters led by Clarkson’s three-point sniping should be in full force.

Gilas Coach Chot Reyes said he is confident that they can avenge their loss on 2021, and they have sharpened their outside sniping.

Even Coach Garcia is worried about it.

“They have shooters,” said Garcia. “I think it’s a great team. They have shooters that run the court. They have big guys. They try to attack every time. They are a very aggressive team.”

And of course, nothing beats the home crowd.

“It’s [going to be] noisy,” Garcia said.

Do you think Gilas will win against the Dominican Republic? Who is your favorite Gilas Pilipinas player? Let us know on the comments



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