LOOK: Gilas arrives in New Zealand for FIBA qualifiers

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 28 2022 07:35 PM

The Philippine men's national basketball team arrived safely in New Zealand on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of their showdown with the host nation in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.

Gilas Pilipinas practiced shortly upon arrival at the Eventfinda Stadium in Auckland.

The Philippines will be playing New Zealand on Thursday, June 30, with the young squad looking to avenge their 88-63 defeat in the February window at home.

Coach Nenad Vucinic will be manning the sidelines for Gilas Pilipinas in the third window, and he will only have 11 players in his squad as a knee injury sidelined Ateneo center Ange Kouame. PBA players were not called up as the professional season is currently in full swing. 

"I really enjoy the importance of basketball to everybody in this country. And it’s good to be involved in something that means so much to so many people. So with that, comes pressure, obviously," Vucinic said of his task with Gilas Pilipinas.

"So that challenge to try to bring joy, and we have the World Cup next year, to bring joy to the people that care about the game is something that has to drive anybody that is involved in the Gilas program. It is a pressure, it is a responsibility," he said.

"But it has to turn into a challenge and has to turn into the enjoyment of working together towards the same goal and that is the performance at the World Cup."

After playing New Zealand, Gilas will return to the Philippines as they host India on July 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Gilas Pilipinas currently has a 1-1 record in Group A, as they defeated India in the February window before losing to New Zealand. 

The other team in the group, South Korea, has been disqualified after they failed to enter a team in the last window over COVID-19 issues.