The real test begins for Gilas Pilipinas on Tuesday, September 26, when it makes its highly-anticipated debut in the 19th Asian Games.
And what a battle for coach Tim Cone and the Philippine team it will be.
The all-pro unit takes on a Bahrain side which Cone describes as a ‘challenge’ against a team that has faced major adversities in the last two weeks leading to the continental showpiece.
“I think they are going to be a challenge out there,” the most accomplished coach in PBA history said of Bahrain.
The match is set at 1:30 p.m. at the Zijingang University inside the Zhejiang University.
It’s business as usual for the national team despite not hearing a word yet from the Hangzhou Asian Games Organizing Committee (HAGOC) regarding the fate of late inclusions Kevin Alas, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, Mo Tautuaa, and CJ Perez.
Gilas held a film viewing on Monday and then held practice at the Dongzan Arena Olympic Sports Shop for the second straight time since arriving Sunday.
Bahrain, which joins the Philippines, Thailand, and Jordan in Group C, is coming off a rousing campaign in the FIBA Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Damascus, Syria last month where it emerged undefeated in five matches.
As champion of the meet, it became the first country to secure a berth in the Qualifying Tournament for the 2024 Paris Olympics.
Former PBA import Dwayne Chism is at the forefront of Bahrain’s campaign, along with Mustafa Rashed, and Muzamil Ameer Hamooda.
All of these are not lost on Cone and his coaching staff.
“They are going to pose some problems because they shoot the ball really well. They put a lot of pressure out there. They are not a big team which is unusual for a Middle East team,” noted the Gilas mentor.
“Usually, Middle East teams are really big, but they (Bahrain) are a little different, that they are quick and they can shoot.”
After Bahrain, Thailand bannered by Tyler Lamb and the Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-led Jordan are up next for Gilas.