Gilas Pilipinas struggled badly in the first half before working on a wondrous turnaround in the second half en route to a 92-81 win over Qatar in their initial match before lonely empty seats at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last September.
But with their back against the wall and playing before a sellout crowd that is expected to be mostly Filipinos, the Nationals vow to churn out best effort from the get-go in their rematch at the Al-Gharaffa Stadium Sports Club Mutli-Purpose Hall at 7 p.m. Thursday here (12 midnight in Manila).
Pressure is heavy on the Nationals as they’re hard pressed to sweep their last two games in the FIBA World Cup qualifier to make the World Cup proper in China later this year. The Qataris, meanwhile, are now just in the process of completing a failed bid in the FIBAWC eliminator.
Making up the Gilas lineup for the Qatar match are Andray Blatche, June Mar Fajardo, Poy Erram Troy Rosario, Japeth Aguilar, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Gabe Norwood, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Jayson Castro and Thirdy Ravena.
RR Pogoy serves out the last of his five-game suspension while Raymond Almazan was dropped out of the list due to an ankle sprain suffered in practice Sunday.