HANGZHOU—Saying their first opponent will be a ‘challenge’, Gilas Pilipinas and coach Tim Cone make their highly-anticipated debut when they take on Bahrain in the 19th Asian Games on Tuesday following a bumpy two-week preparation.
“I think they are going to be a challenge out there,” said Cone of the Bahrainis, whom the Filipinos will battle at 1:30 p.m. at the Zijingang University inside the Zhejiang University.
Cone has every reason not to be complacent.
Bahrain, which joins the Philippines, Thailand, and Jordan in Group C, is coming off a spectacular campaign in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Damascus, Syria, where it emerged undefeated in five matches last month.
As champion of the tournament, Bahrain became the first country to secure a berth in the Qualifying Tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Expected to be a handful for Gilas is former PBA import Dwayne Chism, who will lead Bahrain’s campaign, alongside Mustafa Rashed, and Muzamil Ameer Hamooda.
“They are going to pose some problems because they shoot the ball really well. They put a lot of pressure out there. They are not a big team which is unusual for a Middle East team,” said Cone.
“Usually, Middle East teams are really big, but they (Bahrain) are a little different that they are quick and they can shoot,” he added.
Cone has not heard yet from the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee, regarding the fate of late inclusions Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Mo Tautuaa, and CJ Perez, but their preparations have continued nonetheless.
On Monday, the team held a film viewing before holding practice at the Dongzan Arena Olympic Sports Shop for the second straight time since arriving Sunday.
After Bahrain, Thailand bannered by Tyler Lamb, and the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-led Jordan are up next for Gilas.