With the postponement of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifier game against Thailand, set for Feb. 20 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Gilas Pilipinas will get more time to prepare when they play their first game at the Mahaka Arena in Jakarta on Feb. 23 against Indonesia instead.
But instead of playing before a loyal home crowd, Gilas Pilipinas will now have to travel before hostile territory for the opening of its FIBA Asia Cup qualifier campaign.
interim coach Mark Dickel admitted the team was caught off-guard when FIBA decided to cancel at the last minute the Filipinos’ debut game in the wake of the novel coronavirus outbreak.
With the postponement, Gilas will now have to travel to Indonesia for its first outing.
“Obviously it’s disappointing because it would have been awesome to play a home game here in front of our fans,” said Dickel.
“But it is what it is. We can’t control that,” added the TnT Katropa active consultant. “We just have to get ready to go over to Indonesia and find a way to play a good game and win.”
The sudden change in schedule had Gilas suddenly reshuffling its game plan from the Thais to the Indons, now coached by Rajko Toroman and possibly, to be reinforced by naturalized player Lester Prosper.
“It does affect us because we are already starting to talk about the stuff that Thailand would do,” said Dickel.
On second thought, it does have its advantage, too, according to the Gilas mentor.
“It makes our job easier. We are just focusing on one opponent so we can focus all our resources and time on exactly what they do,” said Dickel.
“It’s a good thing. You get more time to really have everybody understand what their roles are, what is expected, and what they have to do out there,” he added. Anytime you get days to do that, the games look better. I’m happy about it. You get three or more days to prepare. You just have to take advantage of the more days.”
The Philippines-Thailand match is one of three games in the qualifier which Fiba decided to postpone early Friday for precautionary measure following the coronavirus outbreak.
The other two are the Feb. 21 game between China and Japan in Chiba and the Feb. 24 outing pitting China against Malaysia in Foshan.
Fiba has yet to announce when the rescheduled games will be held as it continues to monitor the situation.