Gilas Pilipinas visits Japan on Friday, November 24 as part of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers. The Philippines currently ranks fifth in the Asian standings and 30th in the world while Japan is eighth in the region and 50th in the world rankings. Gilas Pilipinas and Japan are both members of Group B of the first round of the Asian Qualifiers.
The first round of the 2019 World Cup Asian Qualifiers is going to have a total of six games per team, three of which will be played in their home floor as part of the new home-and-away format, per FIBA.com. After six game days held on November 2017, February 2018, and June 2018, the top three teams from each group qualifies in the second round will be placed in a group with three other top teams, forming two separate groups.
The results from the first round of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers are carried over to the second round with the games to be played in September 2018, November 2018, and February 2019. The top three teams from the two groups automatically join host China in the 2019 FIBA World Cup. The tournament will have 32 participating teams.
According to SPIN.ph, Gilas Pilipinas head coach Chot Reyes has chosen his 12-man roster, which is headed by their naturalized player, Andray Blatche. He will be joined by former PBA MVPs, June Mar Fajardo and Jayson Castro while the rest of the team consists of Japeth Aguilar, Calvin Abueva, Kevin Alas, Allein Maliksi, Gabe Norwood, Roger Pogoy, Kiefer Ravena, Troy Rosario, and Matthew Wright.
The most obvious omission is FIBA golden boy and scoring guard, Terrence Romeo. The 25-year-old star is nursing an injury that limited him during the Gilas Pilipinas practice and preparations. Big men Raymond Almazan, Mac Belo, and Carl Bryan Cruz were also left off from the roster but they are eligible to be selected in Gilas Pilipinas’ next game on November 27 against Chinese Taipei in Manila.
On the other hand, Japan is going to be led by their own naturalized player, Ira Brown. Japan will also have an injured star in Makoto Hiejima, who is not expected to play against Gilas Pilipinas. However, Taketoshi Furukawa, Daiki Tanaka, Atuya Ota, and Kosuke Takeuchi will pick up the slack. Japan is coached by Julio Lamas of Argentina.
Noel Zarate of Sports 5 reports that Japan likes to play a fast-paced offense or the run-and-gun. They have many similarities with Gilas Pilipinas but they have the home court advantage. Gilas Pilipinas defeated Japan twice in their last two games at the 2015 FIBA Asia Championship, 73-66 in the second round, and 81-70 in the semifinals.
Gilas Pilipinas vs. Japan is scheduled to happen on Friday, November 24 at the Komazawa Olympic Park Gym in Tokyo. The game will start at 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time, 5:00 a.m. Eastern Time, and 7:00 p.m. local time. Fans can also watch Gilas Pilipinas vs. Japan via live stream on Sports 5 Live and Live Basketball TV.
[Featured Image by Hussein Malla/AP Images]