Gilas Pilipinas get the chance to exact payback against a Senegal side that stunned them Friday in the Heyuan WUS International Basketball Tournament in China.
Hostilities start at 8 p.m. with the Filipinos looking to make up for a 72-64 loss they suffered from the formidable African squad when they go at it one more time.
The defeat could have been averted had it not been for the tiring six-hour bus ride the players endured from the city of Enping to Heyuan.
Unlike the Filipinos, Gilas head coach Chot Reyes said the Senegalese had been there the day before their initial matchup, giving them the luxury of rest and relaxation going into the game.
Gilas was victorious in their debut in the Chinese pocket tournament, whipping Iran-B, 76-65 on Thursday.
“It’s a tough one,” said Reyes of getting back at a Senegal squad that is bigger and stronger than the ones who battled during the 2014 worlds in Seville, Spain.
“But it was a great effort. Coming off a six-hour bus trip, it wasn’t easy to compete against this team. They were rested and had been there a day earlier, but we hung in there,” he added.
Still, Reyes felt Gilas had chances of pulling off a win and he hoped that the players had learned their lesson.
“I’m just disappointed because we could have won the game. But we showed tremendous fighting spirit, especially coming off a six-hour bus ride.”
Gilas are hoping to get another solid effort from six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, Dwight Ramos and CJ Perez as well as newcomer AJ Edu.
Fajardo led the way with 14 points in their losing effort against Senegal while Ramos and Perez each tallied 11 markers.
Edu, the 6-foot-10 Cypriot-Filipino made key contributions coming off the bench in the first two games as he was a solid presence on both ends of the court.