HANGZHOU, China — Gilas Pilipinas will be fighting for life when it battles Qatar in the classification match of the men’s basketball competition of the 19th Asian Games on Monday at the Zhejiang University’s Zijingang Gymnasium here.
The do-or-die duel starts at 4 p.m. with the Filipinos eager to bounce back from their sorry 62-87 loss to Jordan and stay in contention in this prestigious quadrennial event.
Qatar knocked Indonesia out of quarterfinal contention with a 74-67 victory before the Filipinos absorbed a painful loss to former Philippine Basketball Association import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and the Jordanians last Saturday.
Gilas had the Jordanians in the ropes for a brief moment late in the third quarter, 52-all, but let them slip away with a 13-0 run going to the fourth, letting loose as well an outright quarterfinal berth where Gilas would have sidestepped Iran.
But these are the cards dealt to the Filipinos now, and the deck it has to play with.
Based on Qatar’s preliminary round game against Indonesia, Gilas will need to look out for at least three licensed Qatari shooters — Abdullah Mousa, Babakar Dieng and Khaled Abdelbaset — who launched 19 of their team’s 25 three-point attempts.
The squad from the Gulf Region also has ferocious rebounders in Nedim Muslic, El Hadji Ndoye and Faris Advic, with Qatar’s combined 54 rebounds crushing Indonesia’s 32 total under the boards.
With their height and built, the Qataris appear to be more comfortable working inside the perimeter, taking 43 of their 68 field goal tries from within the arc.
But Gilas coach Tim Cone remains confident.
“We gotta face Qatar whom we feel that we could beat then we’re gonna go after Iran. I think we have a good chance of beating Iran in the quarterfinals and that will bring us to the Final Four,” Cone said.
“Then, we’re gonna look at China or Korea. Then, hopefully, we find a good game together there against either team then go back and play Jordan again. That’s the goal. We want to play Jordan again.”
Cone added that they are keeping their hopes high, knowing that they have what it takes to surpass the third-place finish that they set in Bangkok in 1998.