HANGZHOU – The real test begins on Tuesday for Gilas Pilipinas when the country makes its long-awaited debut at the 19th Asian Games.
The fully professional unit will take on the Bahrain side, which Cone describes as a “challenge” against a team that has suffered major setbacks in the last two weeks leading to the continental showpiece.
“I think they’re going to be a challenge,” Cone, the most accomplished coach in PBA history, said of Bahrain.
The game takes place at 1:30 PM at Zijingang University in Zhejiang University.
Gilas held a film screening on Monday and then practiced for the second straight time since his arrival on Sunday at the Dongzan Arena Olympic Sports Shop.
Bahrain, who join the Philippines, Thailand and Jordan in Group C, enjoyed a glittering campaign at the Fiba Olympic pre-qualification tournament in Damascus, Syria last month, remaining unbeaten after five matches.
As champions of the competition, it became the first country to secure a place in the qualifying tournament for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris.
Former PBA import Dwayne Chism is at the forefront of Bahrain’s campaign, along with Mustafa Rashed and Muzamil Ameer Hamooda.
None of this is lost on Cone and his coaching staff.
“They are going to cause problems because they shoot the ball very well. They put a lot of pressure there. They are not a big team, which is unusual for a team from the Middle East,” the Gilas mentor noted.
“Usually the Middle Eastern teams are very big, but they (Bahrain) are a bit different: they are fast and can shoot.”
After Bahrain, Thailand, led by Tyler Lamb, and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson-led Jordan are next for Gilas.