FIBA: After giving Serbia a scare, Gilas turns focus on Dominican Republic

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 01 2021 06:09 PM

FIBA: After giving Serbia a scare, Gilas turns focus on Dominican Republic 1
The Dominican Republic, like Gilas Pilipinas, is seeking to bounce back from a loss to Serbia and qualify for the semifinals of the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament. FIBA.basketball

Gilas Pilipinas will look to build on their confidence-boosting effort against Serbia when they take on the Dominican Republic in the FIBA Olympic Qualifying Tournament, Friday at the Aleksandar Nikolic Hall in Belgrade.

The Philippines, a team composed of amateur standouts, gave powerhouse Serbia a huge scare in their game on Thursday before falling short, 83-76.

Gilas' effort was widely praised by Filipinos who watched the contest in the early hours of the morning, but the loss nonetheless means that the team is now in a must-win situation heading into their game against the Dominican Republic.

The Dominican Republic also has its backs against the wall, having lost to Serbia, 94-76, in its first game.

The winner of Friday morning's contest will advance to the crossover semifinals to take on either Italy or Puerto Rico.

"This is gonna sound cliche and I apologize for that, but we do take games one at a time," Gilas coach Tab Baldwin said, when asked for his thoughts on their next assignment.

"We haven't even begun to look at Dominican (Republic) yet," he admitted.

The Gilas coaching staff spent the night and Thursday planning for Dominican Republic, but Baldwin stressed that what's most crucial is for them to recover physically. 

The Dominican Republic will have the advantage of one day's rest, while Gilas will play back-to-back games.

"We've gotta get ourselves physically ready to play. 'Cause this is a tough game, and it will take a lot out of the players," said Baldwin. "Both physically and mentally, we've got a quick turnaround, so it's not gonna be easy." 

The Dominican Republic is ranked 19th in the world by FIBA, and features several players who suit up in European leagues. 

There is some history between Gilas and the Dominican Republic, as the teams figured in a tune-up before the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup, which the Dominican Republic won, 86-79.

Eloy Vargas and Victor Liz, who saw action in that tune-up game, remain in the lineup for the Dominican Republic. Liz, along with Michael Torres Cuevas, led them in scoring against Serbia with 16 points each. 

Game time is at 2:30 a.m. 

Only the winner of the qualifiers will secure a ticket to the Tokyo Olympics. 

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