1:30 p.m. — Philippines
HANGZHOU, China — Gilas Pilipinas kicks off its quest for gold medal when it battles Bahrain in the men’s basketball event of the 19th Asian Games on Tuesday at the Zijingang University inside the Zhejiang University here.
Action kicks off at 1:30 p.m. with the Filipinos shooting for an early victory against the dangerous Bahrainis who will be bannered by an import that is very familiar to Philippine basketball.
Wayne Chism, an American-born journey who had stops with Rain or Shine and NLEX in the Philippine Basketball Association, will be leading Bahrain, which aims to book an early win in the preliminaries of this prestigious quadrennial tournament.
Bahrain is coming off a rousing campaign in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Syria last month where it emerged undefeated in five matches.
As champion, it became the first country to secure a berth in the Qualifying Tournament for the Paris Olympics next year.
Gilas coach Tim Cone admitted that facing Bahrain will be a a challenge, especially with the Filipinos struggling to come up with a solid roster following the withdrawal of overseas-based players like Kai Sotto, Dwight Ramos, Kiefer Ravena and AJ Edu and the organizers’ denial to the appeal to include Calvin Abueva, Terrence Romeo, Mo Tautuaa and Jason Perkins in the roster for not being part of the initial pool.
Instead, Gilas had brought in four players who were part of the pool in Chris Ross, Kevin Alas, Arvin Tolentino and CJ Perez as well as Marcio Lassiter, who will be coming in as replacement for injured Roger Pogoy.
They will be backed by naturalized players Justin Bronwlee and Ange Kouame as well as Philippine Basketball Association standouts June Mar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar, Chris Newsome, and Calvin Oftana.
“I think they are going to be a challenge out there,” said Cone, who is looking to reach a personal milestone by surpassing his bronze medal performance in the Bangkok edition of the Asian Games in 1998.
Gilas arrived in this bustling and wealthy city in Eastern China on Sunday and held a film viewing session on Monday. Then, they practiced at the Dongzan Arena Olympic Sports Shop in which Cone went through their game plan in preparation not just against Bahrain but also against their pool play opponents in Thailand and Jordan.