(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7:30 p.m. --Philippines vs. Qatar
IN a keenly-awaited but closed-door match, the new-look Philippine team with new coach Yeng Guiao will battle dangerous Qatar in an all-important encounter in the FIBA Asia World Cup 2019 Qualifiers at the Araneta Coliseum.
And like in their 73-81 setback to Iran in Tehran last Sept. 13, there will be no NBA veteran Jordan Clarkson, no four-time PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and no Greg Slaughter in the line-up in the 7:30 p.m. encounter against the Qataris.
But Guiao remains confident with his handpicked 12-man Filipino team, which have lovingly earned the monicker, the “Replacements” for their brave and determined efforts to keep the Filipino pride alive in the sport closest to the hearts.
Guiao had scheduled late afternoon workouts during the weekend. The team arrived from Tehran only last Saturday morning after being stranded for almost 12 hours due to the typhoon Ompong.
As personally announced by Samahang Basketball ng Pilipinas (SBP) president Al Panlilio, the 12 Filipinos suiting up aganist the Qataris are Japeth Aguilar, Beau Belga, Alex Cabagnot, Paul Lee, John Paul Erram, Marcio Lassiter, Gabe Norwood, Stanley Pringle, Ian Sangalang, Asi Taulava, Scottie Thompson and Matthew Wright.
“It is a welcome development that Japeth (Aguilar) and Matthew (Wright) are back in the Final 12 after serving their one-game suspension imposed by FIBA,” said Panlilio in an e-mail to People’s Tonight.
“Japeth’s quickness, perimeter scoring as well as his above the rim athleticism combined with his vast experience in the international brand of play will surely be an added boost in our battle against Qatar,” said Panlilio.
Added Panlilio: “Matthew is a knock-down shooter from the 3-point area. We struggled mightily against Iran because we couldn’t shoot from the outside, with him on-board, hopefully, that problem will be addressed.”
“The inclusion of Stanley Pringle will add stability in our guard rotation as we want to take
advantage of our quickness against the guards of Qatar.”
The SBP head said Greg Slaughter was not given the green light to play.
“But we are hoping that in the December window, both Greg and June Mar will finally be healthy to represent the country,” he said.
Both games in December will be played in Manila. Both Guiao and Panlilio expect Qatar to put up a good fight.
The Qataris, after all, are in desperation mode.
With a dismal 2-5 win-loss record, the Qataris have now found themselves on the edge outright elimination.
Qatar coach Tim Lewis claimed he knows the Filipino style of play all too well. But he admitted he needs to draw some magic from Ngombo, the team’s lone bright spot in their loss to Austraia, and other sources like Hassan Mohamed, Khalid Suliman Abdi, Yehia Abdel Haleem, Emir Mujkic and Faris Avdic.
Although the result of game is important to both countries, only a handful of team officials and sportswriters will be in attendance as a result of the ugly, bench-clearing free-for-all that marred the Philippines-Australia game at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan last July 2.
It marks only the third time that a major local basketball event will be played behind closed doors, however.
San Beda College defeated arch-rival Ateneo, 77-75, on free throws by JV Yango to clinch the 1977 NCAA title behind closed doors also at the Big Dome.
Ateneo also figured in anotther closed door game, this time against University of Santo Tomas in the UAAP in 1999 played at the neutral venue -- Lyceum gym in Intramuros.
The Joe Lipa-coached Eagles defeated the Aric del Rosario-mentored Tigers, 62-60,