FIBA World Cup qualifiers: Areas to improve on before Gilas faces Australia

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After going 2-0 to start the FIBA World Cup qualifiers, Gilas Pilipinas will take on the toughest assignment in its group — reigning FIBA Asia champion Australia in February. Courtesy of FIBA.com

Gilas Pilipinas finished the first window of the FIBA World Cup qualifiers with a 2-0 record, but even coach Chot Reyes has acknowledged the team is not perfect.

ABS-CBN News looks at which areas Gilas can be better at by the time the next pair of games are played in February — a home assignment against Japan and, the more formidable matchup, a road game against reigning Asian champion Australia.

Andray Blatche

Maybe Gilas should start liking the new home-and-away format. If this were the old system, in which games are crammed in a week, it’s hard to imagine Blatche playing more than 30 minutes a game (which he did against Japan and Chinese-Taipei).

He has done his part cleaning up misses (26 total rebounds) and swatting shots (8 total blocks), but he’s shooting just 6 of 20 from the field in two games and coughed up 12 turnovers, unacceptable for a big man.

It would serve Gilas well if Blatche improves on both departments while he remains a force off the glass come the February games.

Terrence Romeo

Don’t we all miss FIBA Asia Cup Terrence Romeo? For those who watched him in his coming-out party in Lebanon in August (here’s one video and another), it was hard not to get excited thinking about the kind of destruction he could’ve left (and the number ankles he could’ve broken) against Japan and Chinese-Taipei. 

That was before an injury derailed his stint in these crucial qualifiers.

Romeo’s presence will be more important in February, however, when his speed and ability to break down defenses will come in handy against Australia, Gilas’ first look at the reigning Asian champions.

The hope is he’ll be available by that time.

The shooting

Timely fourth-quarter sniping on Monday aside, Gilas’ shooting needs to be better.

Take away the Filipinos’ 4-of-9 performance from behind the arc in the fourth against Chinese-Taipei and Gilas is making just 9-of-37 shots from downtown or a subpar 24%.

In both early-window games, Gilas allowed both Chinese-Taipei and Japan to shoot 3s with a better percentage, too.

If Gilas dreams of standing a chance against the Aussies, the team must improve in those areas — hitting outside shots and defending against them.

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