MANILA - Gilas Pilipinas has a chance to go top of their group in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 qualifiers, as they take on Thailand on Monday night in Manama, Bahrain.
The Philippines currently has a 2-0 record in Group A, tied with South Korea which has opted not to play in the current window due to concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic.
On Friday night, they crushed Thailand 93-61, with a team composed of players with no professional experience putting on an impressive display. Dwight Ramos was the star of the show, going a perfect 7-of-7 from the field for 20 points.
"Coming into this game, we really weren't sure how we would play, because of the seven, eight-month layoff," said coach Jong Uichico, who is calling the shots for Gilas Pilipinas in this qualifying window.
"We were just feeling ourselves at the start of the game. Fortunately, the game turned around, sometime at the start of the second quarter," he added.
The Philippines had settled for a 21-19 lead after the opening frame, which saw them struggle to contain Thailand's outside shooting. But they got untracked in the second quarter, out-scoring Thailand 32-10 to take control of the contest for good.
Gilas would lead by as much as 36 points, 73-37, when Javi Gomez de Liano converted a layup with a minute and 36 seconds to go in the third quarter.
"We didn't play like what we expected," Thailand's Sukhdave Ghogar said afterward. "The Philippines was shooting lights out, and we didn't do what we planned to do. It's one of our bad days."
Thailand went on to lose the next day to Indonesia, 90-76, and will enter Monday's game with a 0-3 win-loss record in the group.
The top two teams in the group will advance to the FIBA Asia Cup 2021, while the six best third-placed teams will compete in a final qualifying tournament in February next year.
Tip off is at 9:00 p.m., Manila time.