The Australia Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas will look to keep their record clean when they collide in the second window of the 2019 FIBA World Cup Qualifiers. The Group B leaders will face each other on Thursday at the Margaret Court Arena in Melbourne, Australia.
The Boomers will look to maximize their significant size advantage over Gilas Pilipinas. Australia leaned on their height advantage in their two blowout wins during the first window of the qualifiers. They ran away with a 104-66 win over Chinese Taipei, and cruised to an 82-58 over Japan in November last year.
Boomers coach Andrej Lemanis told ESPN Philippines that they know their size will be hard to handle for the Filipinos. However, Lemanis admitted that they do not have room for complacency, knowing that Gilas Pilipinas will try to use their quickness to compensate for the size disadvantage.
While the Philippines will parade a guard-heavy roster, Lemanis said that their opponents remain dangerous because of their ability to attack the defense. He is aware that the Filipino guards love to shoot against taller opponents without hesitation, and they will run most of the time, which could spell trouble for their big men on Thursday.
Boomers star guard Jason Cadee had the same take as his coach, saying that they cannot take their opponents likely. The 26-year-old said that they will go up against a “dangerous team” that “plays with a lot of confidence” based on their recent games.
Gilas Pilipinas started their 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign with a hard-earned 77-71 win over Japan in Tokyo. It was followed by a narrow 90-83 victory against rivals Chinese Taipei in Manila. Starting playmaker Jayson Castro paced the Philippines in their first two assignments, scoring 20 points in both games.
The Philippines will have to look for other options on Thursday, though, as Gilas head coach Chot Reyes ruled out Castro for the game against the Boomers due to a sprained ankle. Naturalized center Andray Blatche will carry a bigger load on his shoulder, and will need to bounce back from a poor showing during the first window.
Blatche averaged just 9.5 points in their first two games in the qualifiers. But while Blatche struggled to make an impact against Chinese Taipei and Japan, the Boomers are wary of the former NBA player. Australian forward Mitch Creek told the Sydney Morning Herald that they prepared hard to slow down Blatche and Gilas Pilipinas on Thursday.
“They have got some great point guards and Blatche in the center role who is going to shoot the ball a lot,” Creek said. “This is his comeback game and we need to be switched on when he comes out, but for the most part we are just going to play Boomers’ defense.”
The Australian Boomers and Gilas Pilipinas showdown will start at 3:30 a.m. ET. Fans can go to Live Basketball TV’s official website to catch the live stream of all 2019 FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
— Rappler (@rapplerdotcom) February 15, 2018