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Gilas coach Tim Cone remains wary of Thailand ahead of Asian Games clash

Justin Brownlee gets set to size up against Tyler Lamb in the Asian Games. PSC-POC Pool (file photo)
By Dugout Philippines

HANGZHOU—The trajectory arc gets steeper for Gilas Pilipinas as it takes on Southeast Asian Games rival Thailand on Thursday 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 against the Thais, scoring 20 points on 6 of 15 from the floor with 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 3 steals.

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 ‘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 points), 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 Sept. 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.

Gilas 3x3 now 3-0

Meanwhile, Gilas' men’s 3x3 team moved on the verge of completing a sweep of its Pool A assignment in the after carving out a 21-15 win over Hong Kong on Wednesday at the Deqing Geographic Information Park Basketball Court.

John Ray Pasaol and Bismarck Lina accounted for more than half of the team’s output in its third straight win in their group.

Lina and Pasaol had seven points each while presiding over a short but telling run that turned the game around in favor of the Filipinos.

Held to a 4-4 standoff, the two sparked four straight points by the Gilas team to take the lead for good at 8-4.

Justin Sanchez and JB Sajonia finished with four and three points, respectively.

Despite already being assured of advancing in the quarterfinal qualifications, Gilas wants nothing but an outright berth in the knockout stage, which it can clinched with a win over Mongolia on Friday for a sweep of the group stage.

“Yun ang gusto namin. Win as many games,” said head coach Lester Del Rosario.

Gilas will take a needed rest on Thursday.

After the Philippines, running second in Group A is Chinese Taipei (2-1), Mongolia (1-1), Jordan (0-2) and Hong Kong (0-2).

The top team in each group will automatically earn a quarterfinal slot, while the next two teams will make it to the qualifications where the four other quarterfinalists will be determined.

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