Cone puts national team in Bahrain state of mind

The Philippines’ defense will hone in on shooter Mosti Rashed (right). —FIBA PHOTO

The Philippines’ defense will hone in on shooter Mosti Rashed (right).

Gilas Pilipinas practiced one last time on home soil Saturday afternoon turning in light work but channeling their focus on a particular opponent: Bahrain.

“We watched a little bit of video on Bahrain today and they can pose some problems because they shoot the ball really well. They put a lot of pressure out,” interim national coach Tim Cone told a pair of reporters shortly after the session at Philsports Arena in Pasig City.

“They are not a big team which is unusual for a Middle Eastern team. Usually, Middle Eastern teams are really big. They’re not so big, but they’re a little different in that they are quick and they shoot,” he added of Gilas’ tournament-opening foe.

Bahrain showcased its speedy play and knack for shooting during the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) Olympic Pre-Qualifying Tournament in Syria, where it emerged as the top finisher. That outing was anchored on the performances of a naturalized ace and former PBA import Wayne Chism along with local Mosti Rashed, who single-handedly crushed the hosts Syria with his outside shooting.

“One kid there shot 10 three-pointers in a game. So, I mean, he’s really aggressive and could shoot it, so, we’re not taking Bahrain lightly,” Cone said of Rashed. “I think they’re gonna be a challenge out there.”

The Philippines takes on Bahrain on Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. Manila time.

Gilas’ final practice had do-it-all forward Justin Brownlee and June Mar Fajardo focusing on conditioning to allow the last-minute replacements, CJ Perez, Kevin Alas, Chris Ross, Arvin Tolentino, and Marcio Lassiter to get up to speed.

“We took the ‘new guys’ and really tried to focus on catching them up today, putting them through the foundational work that they missed at the beginning of our Inspire camp. So that’s what we tried to do today,” said Cone.

Still uncertain

The presence of Perez, Alas, Ross, and Tolentino had the Gilas brain trust moving on from hoping that Terrence Romeo, Calvin Abueva, Mo Tautuaa, and Jason Perkins still making the final roster for the Hangzhou campaign.

“We don’t have anything,” Cone said of a resolution to an appeal to clear the original quartet. “I can’t imagine anything changing at this time. It kills me to rule those four guys out because they really changed the dynamics of the team in terms of size and versatility.”

“Even knowledge, because they have all that foundational knowledge from the beginning of the Inspire camp. You know, their inclusion would’ve been transformational, but again we don’t have control over that,” he added.

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Cone said Gilas has also begun plotting against Thailand and Jordan—two teams its coaching staff is familiar with. But the seasoned mentor insists that his charges are zeroing on the Bahrainis.

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