Gilas Pilipinas’ Puso to be tested by Mighty Aussies

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For a basketball crazy country such as the Philippines, the resurgence in the world basketball stage is something of a boon. With millions of basketball courts strewn all over the archipelago, it is not surprising to see so many people hooked to the game that calls for a different breed of player in order to put the program to the top of the list. While the USA is still a far superior team, we are certainly making waves in our regional matches.

With the window of opportunity opening up for the Philippines once again, its team of resilient dribblers and slashers is going to be tested anew against team of rangy and highly skilled Australians out for redemption themselves.

Thursday, February 22 marks a very special day in the Gilas program as its crew of battle-tested players tangle with the Australians in Melbourne hoping to continue its streak and cement its legacy and its drive alive.

Leading the charge for Gilas is renowned bench tactician Chot Reyes who has tapped a crew of proven performers to spearhead the drive against the Aussies in their home court. Leading the front line are versatile big men Junemar Fajardo, Japeth Aguilar and naturalized player Andray Blatche. Providing immediate help to the behemoths are the versatile swingmen led by Gabe Norwood, Allein Maliksi, Matthew Wright, Roger Pogoy, Carl Bryan Cruz and the come-backing Calvin Abueva. The backcourt would be headed by spitfire Jayson Castro-William, Kevin Alas, Jio Jalalon and Kiefer Ravena. A surprise addition to the pool is Abu Tratter, a DLSU big who could spell minutes in the frontcourt should anything drastic happen to the regulars. Of the fourteen, only twelve would be given the chance to bang heads with the Aussies.

Reyes has been taking a rather proactive approach to the battle, stacking the team with speedy guards and outside snipers to try to combat the tall, 10th ranked Australians. With his personnel, it seems he is intent on running from start to finish.

Meanwhile, the Australians are heading into battle with a host of tall, rangy sniping veterans and some bull-strong forwards to keep things interesting. All the members of the Australian team are veterans of the National Basketball League which says how strong the competition would be. The Boomers would be led by head coach Andrej Limanes to battle against the confident Gilas team.

Versatile Daniel Kickert, all 6-10, 20 pounds of him, will join forces with Angus John Brandt and Matthew John Hodgson to form a highly formidable frontcourt. Jesse Wagstaff, Mitchell Creek and Colin Kay round out the front court selection for the Australian team. The backcourt would be handled by Jason Cadee, Adam Sobey, Cameron Gliddon, Robert Norton, Mitchell McCarron and Kevin Lisch. Notably absent for the Aussies are NBA veterans Andrew Bogut (formerly of GSW, Dallas, Milwaukee), Utah’s Dante Exum (out with an injury) and Joe Ingles, Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons (currently dominating for the 76ers), Milwaukee’s Matthew Dellavedova, Boston’s Aron Baynes and the Spurs’ Patty Mills.

Team Gilas Pilipinas is coming off a stunning 77-71 upset of the Japanese in their home court while the Boomers manhandled Chinese Taipei in the first qualifying window match. While the Gilas Pilipinas team are clearly the underdogs in the match, stranger things have happened and can happen when two basketball crazy nations collide.

Would the NBL-backed Boomers continue to ravage against the savvy Filipinos or will things take a wild and wooly turn with Gilas running circles and raining threes on the Boomers? Find out as the two basketball titans tangle on Thursday, February 22.

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