The Gilas Pilipinas plunge back into action on Friday evening when they battle the up-and-coming Indonesia in the FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.
Tip off is at 6 p.m. with the Gilas looking to ride the momentum of their incredible 81-78 win over longtime rivals, South Korea, on Wednesday. Three players will be making their debuts as Jordan Heading, the top pick of this year’s special Gilas draft, joins youngsters Lebron Lopez and Geo Chiu, to battle Indonesia.
They will be taking the place of Javi Gomez De Llano, Jaydee Tungcab, and Mike Nieto as the Gilas looks to remain unbeaten in this tournament. Their thrilling victory over South Korea—which was made possible by a buzzer-beating triple by SJ Belangel—gave the Philippines a perfect 4-0 (win-loss) record in Group A.
Gilas head coach Tab Baldwin explained that this game versus Indonesia is ideal for Lopez, who is the youngest member of the Gilas squad at just 18 years old.
"Lebron of course is a young kid. His learning curve is the sharpest and the steepest. We think the Indonesian game is the better game to start his international career than the South Korean game," shared Baldwin.
The inclusion of the 20-year old Chiu, meanwhile, is a matter of balance, explained Baldwin.
"Whether we go with six big men and six guards, or seven and five, seven guards and five big men. It's just balancing the lineup for the Korean game," Baldwin quipped.
"Gio will play in the next game and will go with the combination of six bigs and six guards and will have a bigger lineup. We'll make a tactical adjustments with them in that lineup," added Baldwin as Chiu joins forces with 7-foot-4 Kai Sotto, 6-foot-10 Ange Kouame and 6-foot-7 Carl Tamayo to form a humongous frontline for Gilas. (JNP)