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Gilas 5 takes on SEAG rival Thailand, seeks victory no. 2

HANGZHOU—The trajectory arc gets steeper for Gilas Pilipinas as it takes on Southeast Asian Games rival Thailand on Thursday, September 28, in the men’s basketball competition of the 19th Asian Games here.

Game time is at 11 a.m. (Manila time) at the Zhejiang University Zijingang Gymnasium, with the Philippines out for a momentum-building followup to its 89-61 opening victory over Bahrain and former PBA import Wayne Chism at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Gymnasium last Tuesday.

Thailand, led by ex-UCLA Bruin Tyler Lamb, will be looking to rebound, meanwhile, from a 97-63 thrashing at the hands of Jordan and TNT Giga import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson last Tuesday.

Hollis-Jefferson, who will be rejoining TNT for the 2023-2024 PBA season once the Asian Games is over, played 30:06 minutes against the Thais, scoring 20 points on 6 of 15 from the floor with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone maps out a play during a break in the Philippines-Bahrain game in the 19th Asian Games.

Gilas head coach Tim Cone was talking about getting his hands on the video of the Jordan-Thailand game even before he had walked off the court after their match against Bahrain.

“We need to break down their game,” said Cone. “We saw them [Thais] in the Southeast Asian Games, but we’re not matched up against them. They were knocked out by Cambodia. So we hope we’ll have a better feel of Thailand than we did. We gotta need to ‘cause Thailand’s a much stronger team than Bahrain.”

The Philippines won the men’s basketball gold medal in the SEA Games, beating host Cambodia in the final.

As on the eve of the game against Bahrain, Cone presided over a film viewing of the Thailand-Jordan game with spliced clips of the Thais’ top players other than Lamb, who was  3 of 14 from the field, including 2 of 10 beyond the arc. His 2 rebounds were among the lowest for the team.

In his place, 5-foot-8 guard Frederick Lish had 13 points on 6 of 19 from the field but was abysmal from outside, going 1 of 9 in treys.

The Gilas defense is expected to zero in on Thailand’s other licensed perimeter shooters like Nattakarn Muangboon, who was 3 of 7 in triples, and Jakongmee Morgan (7 pts), Naratip Boonserm (6) and Nakom Jaisanuk, all of whom took three treys each or more against Jordan.

Steady improvement as the Games move on is Gilas’ priority mindset, according to Cone.

“We gotta go up the level, we gotta continue to rise in our game ‘cause we’re gonna play a tougher opponent each time out,” he said.

“I mean, from Bahrain to Thailand to Jordan, and perhaps to the next round, whether it be Korea or Japan or whoever, and hopefully to the semis, maybe to the finals, we gotta continue to lift the level of our game, that’s important.”

A one and a half-hour practice was scheduled at 1 p.m.

After Thailand, Gilas faces Jordan on September 30  at 5:30 p.m.

“Jordan is a much, much, much better team than Thailand,” said Cone when asked to rate Gilas’ preliminary round opponents.

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