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Don’t take Saudi lightly

Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas is expecting Gilas Pilipinas to step up its game when it battles Saudi Arabia in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers at the Mall of Asia Arena on Monday.

Prior to Gilas’ 85-81 loss to Lebanon two nights ago in Beirut, SBP president Al Panlilio reminded the Nationals to go all-out and don’t take the Saudis lightly at home.

Saudi is currently ranked 80th in the FIBA standings, 45 rungs lower than the Philippines at 35th.

But after Gilas’ loss at the hands of the Cedars and Wael Arakji, the Filipino cagers are expected to bounce back and claim their third win in six games.

“Even though they’re ranked lower than us, you cannot count any other team out. All teams are getting stronger, so we just have to make sure we play well on Monday,” Panlilio said.

“Hopefully, they’re able to pick up as they play along in this game. How to play together.”

Panlilio is also expecting the leadership of Jordan Clarkson to take effect.

It will be the first time for the Utah Jazz stalwart to see action on home soil since joining the Gilas program in 2018.

Clarkson was impressive against the Lebanese with a game-high 27 points, seven assists and six boards, but failed to lead the team to an upset win.

“When I was talking to him, we just said we just have to win. I think he also understands what he needs to do,” Panlilio said.

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