Fight for survival

TEAM Pilipinas fights for survival when it takes on Qatar in the first of the Philippines’s two crucial games in the final window of the Fiba World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Thursday night at the Al Gharafa Sports Club in Doha.

With a ticket to the World Cup on the line, the Filipinos try to avoid elimination when they battle the home team at 7 p.m (12 a.m. Friday, Manila Time).

The nationals are eager to bounce back consecutive defeats in the last window as its 5-5 won-lost record dropped them to fourth place behind World Cup-bound Australia (9-1), Iran (7-3) and Japan (6-4).

Kazakhstan (4-6) and Qatar (2-8), meanwhile, hold the fifth and sixth spots in Group F behind the Philippines.

Also facing Kazakhstan on Saturday, a setback would mean instant elimination for the Filipinos.

Head Coach Yeng Guiao simply wants the team to pour everything it got.

“Everybody is serious. They are ready to make contributions,” Guiao said.

Guiao wished to get all the support from overseas Filipino workers in Qatar.

“We hope to get some energy from our fellow Filipino in Qatar. With them cheering for us, it will give us energy and motivation,” he said.

The final 12 lineup was revealed on Tuesday night with collegiate standout Thirdy Ravena making the cut.

Naturalized player Andray Blatche is back along with June Mar Fajardo, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Gabe Norwood, Poy Erram, Japeth Aguilar, Marcio Lassiter, Scottie Thompson, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca.

Blatche’s return is big for Guiao as the American’s absence in the past windows was costly for the team.

“The big difference is Andray. He came in a lot better in shape and that’s the best sign. I think he’s game-ready,” Guiao said.

“He’s somebody who understands the game really well so I think that will be our biggest advantage,” he added.


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