Gilas targets feel-good win at home vs Taipei not to let guard down

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Gilas targets feel-good win at home vs Taipei not to let guard down
Scottie Thompson on the attack versus Hong Kong in Gilas’ away game Thursday. Gilas beat Hong Kong, 94-64.

MANILA, Philippines — It’s Day 2 of Gilas Pilipinas’ brick-laying endeavors.

After getting their four-year program off to a fiery start in Hong Kong, the Nationals continue building today on home turf and set out for an even better performance in their second assignment against Chinese Taipei.

The FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers Group B matchup takes place at the familiar hardwood of the PhilSports Arena, where Tim Cone and his crew look to give their “Sixth Man” a good show on the heels of Thursday’s 94-64 demolition of host Hong Kong.

Everyone felt great about that 30-point beatdown and the bright promise of this new Gilas iteration that has its sights trained on making the FIBA World Cup and the Olympics down the road.

But Cone was quick to say, hold your horses.

“It’s obvious to anybody that we have a long way to go,” said Cone, whose program calls for the “Gilas 12” to serve national team duties in all FIBA windows and international tournaments all the way to 2027.

As they shoot for a 2-0 sweep of the opening window in the 7:30 p.m. encounter, the multi-titled mentor cautioned Justin Brownlee and the Nationals against letting their guard down versus the ambush-plotting Taiwanese.

Three days before, the Cheng Liu-led Chinese Taipei kept it close against powerhouse New Zealand and the visiting Tall Blacks needed a big fourth-quarter surge to grab an 89-69 victory.

“We hear that Taiwan gave New Zealand a real battle so they’re going to be a team to be reckoned with come Sunday,” said Cone. “We need to play a lot, lot better (than the HK gig).”

This marks Gilas’ first home outing since the Jordan Clarkson-headlined Nationals clobbered China, 96-75, at the end of FIBA World Cup Qualification classification phase last September.

And Cone and Co. expect Pinoy supporters to be with them.

“We were on the road in Hong Kong and our fans were louder than their fans and that keyed our run in the third quarter,” he said on Puso Pilipinas.

“If we can have that kind of support at the PhilSports Arena on Sunday, with a sold-out crowd, that could be fantastic for us. This is an exciting team to watch and fans will be enjoying this team.”

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