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Gilas eye strong showing vs Taipei


‘We were shaky in the first half but we were able to make some adjustments in the second.’


After an impressive performance against Hong Kong, Gilas Pilipinas is determined to put on a show when it faces Chinese Taipei at home in  the first window of the FIBA Asia Qualifiers on Sunday at the Philsports Arena.

An expected jampacked crowd is tipped to welcome Gilas when they face the dangerous Taiwanese after the Samahang Basketbol ng Pilipinas revealed to Daily Tribune that tickets are nearly gone at least three days before the titanic showdown.

After all, it’s going to be the first home game of Gilas Pilipinas since winning the gold medal in the 19th Asian Games last October and since Tim Cone was appointed as full-time head coach last month.

Against Hong Kong at the Tsuen Wan Stadium in Hong Kong late Thursday, the Filipino dribblers proved that they deserve all the attention.

After a slow first half, Cone made some tweaks in his game plan, paving the way for them to shatter the home team’s vaunted zone defense.

Then, they started hitting their outside shots, sparking a sizzling 30-9 rally in the third quarter to completely transform a nip-and-tuck encounter into a massacre until settling the score at 94-64 at the final buzzer.

Now, the Filipinos are expected to prepare hard for the Chinese Taipei squad that suffered an 89-69 beating at the hands of New Zealand.

Expected to be a marked man for the Taiwanese will be Cheng Liu, a 6-foot-4 gunslinger who dropped 20 points laced with four three-pointers against the taller, longer Kiwis.

Expected to make life difficult for Cheng will be Gilas swingmen Jamie Malonzo and Calvin Oftana as well as scrappy guards Scottie Thompson and CJ Perez.

But Cone stressed that their main focus at this point is their improvement as a team — not Chinese Taipei.

“I thought we started a little bit tentative, but in the second half, we came out more relaxed a little bit,” said Cone, who passed with flying colors in his first game as Gilas Pilipinas tactician on a full-time capacity.

“We played better and defended better.”

“The crowd got us to gather some momentum and that run took us through.”

Cone made special mention of Kevin Quiambao, a mere college sophomore but is already making his presence felt in the international arena.

“Kevin took over for us down the stretch,” said Cone, referring to the reigning University Athletic Association of the Philippines Most Valuable Player from De La Salle University who scored nine straight points in the fourth quarter that doomed Hong Kong’s chances.

Quiambao said he didn’t do anything spectacular.

“I just stayed ready throughout the game,” said Quiambao, who played as the last man at the end of the bench in the rotation of former Gilas coach Chot Reyes.

“We were shaky in the first half but we were able to make some adjustments in the second.”

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