February 21, 2024

Reid-led Hong Kong stands in Gilas' way in Asia Cup qualifiers opener

GILAS PILIPINAS gets rolling its FIBA Asia Cup qualification campaign on the road Thursday as it battles Hong Kong at the Tsue Wan Sports Centre.

Justin Brownlee will be at the forefront of the national team's campaign that won't have the benefit of injured big men June Mar Fajardo and AJ Edu.

But youth will be served on the unit of coach Tim Cone as young guns Kai Sotto, Carl Tamayo, Dwight Ramos, and UAAP MVP Kevin Quiambao are all on board for the opening window of next year's FIBA Asia Cup in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.

One-time Gilas team skipper Japeth Aguilar takes the place of the 6-foot-10 Fajardo as a last-minute replacement.

Fajardo, the seven-time MVP of San Miguel, hurt his left calf during the Commissioner's Cup finals between the Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots.

Sponsored content:
Despite not having Fajardo and Edu around, Cone still likes the frontcourt combination of Sotto and Tamayo teaming up with the 37-year-old Aguilar in the middle "Japeth being able to back up Kai is really going to be big for us," said Cone just before Gilas left for Hong Kong on Tuesday.

Hong Kong is expected to bank on its home crowd for the 8 p.m. match along with the veteran presence of one player so familiar to Cone and his Barangay Ginebra players currently in the Gilas roster, namely Scottie Thompson, Jamie Malonzo, and Aguilar.

Duncan Reid again made it to the roster of Hong Kong, eleven years since he played for the same team in the 2013 edition of the Asia Cup which the country hosted.

Reid, 34, was with the guest team Bay Area Dragons, who battled and lost to Ginebra in the Commissioner's Cup finals that went the full seven-game route two years ago.

But Hong Kong won't be having the services of Choi Kwan Tsai and Shiu Wah Leung, who led the team in scoring during the Asia Cup pre-qualifiers. Hong Kong finished within the Top 4 in Group F along with Guam, Thailand, and Mongolia to advance in the qualifying phase.

Sponsored content:
After Hong Kong, Gilas returns home and hosts Chinese Taipei at the Philsports Arena on Sunday. (RG)