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Chot wary of China, Korea, Iran

Gerry Carpio (The Philippine Star) - September 22, 2014 - 12:00am

INCHEON, South Korea – Coach Chot Reyes said a Smart Gilas team without Andray Blatche makes a big difference in winning or losing but he is putting his complete trust on his World Cup holdovers in their bid to win  the gold for the first time in the Asian Games.

“Certainly, we’re not giving up (without Blatche),” said Reyes, adding that slotman Marcus Douthit is now in good shape as he showed in practice with the team here and in Manila.

Reyes shrugged off the Smart Gilas’ new tag as the “team to beat”, saying the title contenders will still be  Iran “for obvious reasons”, China which could emerge as a surprise package with a young and tall lineup, and Korea, which will go all out to win the title on home turf.

The national coach doesn’t hide the fact that the team is under pressure to win the gold, and no less than Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas president Manny V. Pangilinan expressed the desire and the need to win it finally in Incheon after the World Cup.

“The pressure is more on me,” said Reyes. “I know there are a lot of expectations but it doesn’t matter for now.”

The Philippines’ immediate concern is its first match in Group E against either India or Kazakhstan tomorrow. If the top eight teams play according to the charts, the Philippines will only be playing Iran in the second round where it can afford to lose provided it wins over the Group B qualifier in the three-team Group E.  

The Philippines will most likely be bunched with Iran, Japan and Qatar in the quarterfinals, avoiding an early confrontation with Korea and China, whose lineup Reyes and his coaching staff hadn’t fully scouted, while those teams had already studied by now their brand of play following their stint in the World Cup.

But as coach Chot said in the World Cup and will say again in the Asian Games, “in the end, winning is  all about heart.”

ANDRAY BLATCHE ASIAN GAMES COACH CHOT REYES GROUP B GROUP E JAPAN AND QATAR KOREA AND CHINA REYES SMART GILAS WORLD CUP
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