The FIBA yearly calendar is always so busy, with national teams gathering together for some regional tournaments in between the basketball World Cup that happens every four years, as well as the qualifier competitions that play out before each major cup. The next FIBA World Cup is in 2023, while the next Asia Cup is next year, and that is the contest that the national men’s basketball team Gilas is concentrating on, seeing as they are not in the Tokyo Summer Olympics. But first they have to go through the qualifiers, and their recent game against Indonesia has promising potential.
As ABS-CBN News tells it, the Philippines managed to get off to a good start with their first game in Group A for the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers, beating Team Indonesia in their home turf at the BritAma Arena in north Jakarta this Sunday, February 23. Technically this would be the second scheduled game for Gilas Pilipinas in the Round 1 grouping, were it not for the actual first match against Thailand last Thursday, February 20, being postponed due to concerns about the COVID-19 outbreak. Regardless, the debuting Filipinos were in fine form against the already 1-loss Indonesian contingent.
At the end of every quarter of play the Gilas Pilipinas kept a comfortable lead over Indonesia, and by the time of the third quarter the national team has pulled away dramatically, ultimately finishing off their opponents with the final score of 100-70. While that might be expected of a squad led by Kiefer Ravena, it was actually his younger brother and teammate Thirdy who was the star of the game. The younger Ravena contributed 23 points to the Gilas total, plus eight rebounds. About the only problems Gilas encounter during the play was their drawing fouls against Indonesia while playing defense, such that they entered Q3 in the penalty.
The hero of the hour Thirdy Ravena was however humble in receiving praise for his powerful performance, preferring to interpret is as his being helped along to moments of opportunity by his PBA veteran teammates, including his older brother and captain. Thirdy was one of only five amateurs in this iteration of Gilas, and even then he has already been part of the team since the Asian Qualifiers of the FIBA World Cup last year.
In a post-game interview Thirdy thanked the PBA players for letting him and the amateurs play while they mentored. “They just let us play, and they were guiding us all throughout the game,” he explained. “That was a big help.” Gilas faces South Korea next game, on Thursday, February 27.
Image from ESPN5 YouTube