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Tuesday, July 23, 2024

Gilas focuses attention on Dominican Republic

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FOR Gilas Pilipinas and head coach Chot Reyes, their third and last preparatory friendly against Mexico at the Philsports Arena last Monday came and went almost as an afterthought.

Moments after Gilas Pilipinas gave world No. 30 Mexico a big scare, 84-77, despite the absence of NBA star Jordan Clarkson in the lineup, Reyes and his coaching staff emerged from their baseline dugout only to slip into a room adjacent to the glass entrance door—the one that serves as media quarters during PBA games.

With Reyes were Gilas Pilipinas team manager Butch Antonio and assistants Jong Uichico and Josh Reyes, all four solemn-faced but not because of the outcome.

Jordan Clarkson, who sat out the tuneup game against Mexico, is shown with coaches Chot Reyes and Tim Cone.

Also with them, having driven straight from the airport after a 24-hour flight, layovers included, from Granada, Spain, was Tim Cone, Gilas Pilipinas’ main man in charge of plotting the defense in the FIBA Basketball World Cup.

Cone, who missed Gilas Pilipinas’ tune-up games against Ivory Coast and Montenegro, was in Granada, a city of 232,208 in southern Spain’s Andalusia region, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, for a top-secret mission: file a dossier on the Dominican Republic, the national team’s opening opponent at 8 p.m. on August 25 at the Philippine Arena in Bocaue, Bulacan.

Cone was there when the Dominican Republic, powered by Minnesota Timberwolves forward KarlAnthony Towns, beat Canada 94-88 in a tune-up game, and when Spain narrowly escaped with victory, 86-77, over the world No. 23.

A sole occupant in the room was mildly surprised when the Gilas Pilipinas coaches walked in, scurrying to leave, with his stuff on a table, after Reyes remarked with a smile, “Me nagsusulat pala rito e. Pano tayo mag-uusap?”

Later, after the Gilas Pilipinas coaches had stepped out from their meeting, Reyes was asked if the friendlies had left any impression on him.

“Wala na, puro Dominican Republic na,” he said, stressing further that the “the next three days [of practice] will be all purely Dominican.”

Reyes said the three tuneup games for Gilas Pilipinas had achieved the goal to “integrate Scottie [Thompson], Jordan [Clarkson] and Kai [Sotto] to the team. Ngayon puro Dominican na.”

And Cone had all the files that could be gathered on the FIBA World Americas qualifier.

Team viewing of video footage Cone brought back from his scouting mission, Reyes said, will highlight Tuesday’s training at 4 p.m before the national team, still officially at 16 players, proceeds to the Philsports Arena playing court for their 6-8 p.m. practice.

Clarkson, of the Utah Jazz, requested a breather after playing the entire first half and the first four minutes of the third quarter in the Philippines’ 85-62 victory over FIBA Africa qualifier Ivory Coast last Friday. He then stayed in the game for 29:39 minutes during a bruising 102-87 defeat to world No. 18 Montenegro of FIBA Europe two days after.


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