MANILA, Philippines–Gilas Pilipinas spent much of its open practice on Tuesday with a particular opponent in mind: the Dominican Republic.
“[The] Dominican Republic, as you all know, beat Canada and Canada beat Spain. (The) Dominicans also fought Spain to a close match,” national coach Chot Reyes said shortly after the session at PhilSports Arena that was finally made accessible to members of the local press.
“As you see today, we spent the entire [session] just being ready for the Dominicans,” he went on.
The Dominicans are ranked 23rd in Fiba’s global rankings but that rating may no longer be accurate to this day.
The Carribeans dropped their first two games but they have become a more ferocious lot after the arrival of the Minnesota Timberwolves star Karl-Anthony Towns.
The NBA star was big in the stunner against the No. 15 Canadians and in the loss to the Spaniards, who are the defending champions of the quadrennial event.
“If only KAT didn’t foul out in the last quarter, they may have been able to win that game as well. That’s indicative of how strong that team is,” Reyes said of the Dominicans whom the world No. 40 Gilas will battle on opening night at the massive Philippine Arena this coming Friday.
“Again, [that’s] a team that’s been together for a while and they have a couple of NBA players—one legitimate All-Star in Towns,” Reyes added.
Backstopping Towns in the Dominicans’ bid is Lester Quinones, who plays for the Golden State Warriors.
“Our first game is against you. It will be noisy,” the visitors’ head coach Nestor Garcia told reporters shortly after arrival on Monday night.
“They got shooters, they run the court, they got big guys. They try to attack every time. They are an aggressive team and we respect them a lot, the Philippines,” he added.
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