MANILA – A year after the infamous “basketbrawl”, the Gilas Pilipinas national men’s basketball team is set to play an Australian-based basketball squad in a closed-door friendly match today and on Sunday.
Gilas head coach Joseller “Yeng” Guiao said the two-day friendly match against the Adelaide 36ers will help mend the friendship between the two countries after figuring in a forgetful FIBA World Cup qualifier match last year.
“This is really something I think would be good for the Philippine basketball,” Guiao said. “We want to erase some of the (bad) memories and renew our friendship and our goodwill with Australian basketball.”
The friendly games will also serve as preparatory games for Gilas Pilipinas before it heads into the World Cup which kicks off on Aug. 31 in multiple cities in China.
“We know that they play high-quality, good basketball. [They are] world-class,” Guiao said. “That is why we want to play them. We understand this is going to be a big help towards our preparations.”
The 36ers head coach Joey Wright, for his part, said this is a perfect chance for both countries to mend fences and bury the hatchet as they aim to make more pleasant memories in these exhibitions.
“Some of the fans in Australia think that one incident defines what Filipino basketball is, and it’s not,” Wright said. “We wanted to come back here and play and show people that it was just one incident and we can come back here and play and we’ll be okay.”
“We’ll be treated well here, and we have been treated exceptionally. Nothing like that will happen, so it’s just one incident and we want to let it go,” added the former PBA import./PN