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What’s next for Gilas after Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers first window


Gilas Pilipinas

Gilas Pilipinas waves to the crowd after the Filipinos’ win over Chinese Taipei in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—New-look Gilas Pilipinas had a successful run in the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup 2025 qualifiers, but there’s going to be a long wait before the national team plunges back into action again.

The national team call-ups will go back to their respective teams in the PBA and overseas leagues before they congregate again to prepare before July as Gilas vies for an Olympics spot through the the 2024 Fiba Olympic Qualifying Tournament.

Unbeaten opener

“I don’t think there’s one guy in our team who’s not looking forward to June to get this thing going again,” said Cone after his wards wrapped up their first task in this new Gilas era with ease.

“They all had a great time.”

And why wouldn’t they have a great time? Since Cone took over permanently as the squad’s head coach, good things have been happening for Gilas.

After a historic medal run in the 2022 Asian Games, Cone also led the Philippines to two straight wins in the first window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers.

The Filipinos shrugged off a slow start to crush Hong Kong on the road, 94-64, before whipping the visiting Chinese Taipei 106-53 in front of the hometown crowd at Philsports Arena.

In those two games, notable changes were seen for the national team compared to its showing in the Fiba World Cup 2023.

In the global competition, Gilas only averaged 16.0 assists per game as a team. Though two games are not enough barometers for “change,” the Nationals have tallied a whopping norm of 31.5 assists per game this time.

Gilas’ best performers

Gilas Pilipinas' Kai Sotto Justin Brownlee

Gilas Pilipinas’ Kai Sotto and Justin Brownlee in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers. –MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Justin Brownlee is one of the biggest agents of change in the Gilas camp, averaging 21.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists per game in his first game back from a voluntary three-month suspension.

Kai Sotto, who barely held his own in the World Cup, is also slowly blossoming under Cone with a double-double average of 15.5 points and 12.5 rebounds with 2.5 blocks to match in the first window.

Newcomer Kevin Quiambao’s addition has also been instrumental for Cone as he showed his mettle on the international stage with 12.5 points and 4.5 rebounds a night.

Despite the amazing performances of his players, though, Cone admitted that two games still aren’t enough to show what the new squad is fully capable of–especially with guys like June Mar Fajardo and Aj Edu out.

Gilas’ next assignment

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone

Gilas Pilipinas coach Tim Cone during a game agianst Chinese Taipei in the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

Thankfully, they will have more of those in a few months.

“We wish we had one more game to play next week or a couple days so we can keep this team together but that’s not something we can control,” said Cone. “This kind of feels like an ending because we don’t play again for another three, four or even five months. It kind of feels like an ending.”

Cone said that Gilas was invited to some tuneup games before the Olympic qualifiers, which dangles spots for the Paris Games later in July for the top teams per tournament.

“We’ve got some invitations from Lithuania, from Slovenia and the Czech Republic. We’re gonna work our way through those and see what we can do. But the window for us to do it is only 10 days.”

The world No. 38 Philippines will begin its OQT campaign against home bet Latvia, which finished as the fifth-best team in the 2023 Fiba World Cup, on July 3 at Arena Riga.

The job will not get easier for Gilas as it faces Georgia the following day on July 4.


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Asia Cup second window

Whether or not they make a deep run in the Fiba OQT, Gilas Pilipinas will start preparing for the second window of the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers slated for November.

There, Gilas will face fellow Fiba World Cup competitor New Zealand and have another go against Hong Kong.

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