June Mar Fajardo (No. 15) will remain to be the only seasoned true center for Gilas against Jordan. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

June Mar Fajardo (No. 15) will remain to be the only seasoned true center for Gilas against Jordan. —AUGUST DELA CRUZ

Its sizzling streak, its big win over an old tormentor and unselfish play that had its fans—and opposing coach—abuzz last Friday are all now things of the past as Gilas Pilipinas tries to put glittering finishing touches to its Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Asian Qualifiers campaign on Monday.

National coach Chot Reyes is wiping the slate clean ahead of the awaited clash at Philippine Arena where they host vengeful Jordan, which is high on a recent victory on the road that meant a free ride to the main event.

“I’m not thinking of that at all. My only focus is to get the team ready for Jordan,” Reyes told the Inquirer when asked if he feels that the Jordanians will play relaxed in the 6 p.m. game.

The Philippines, after all, never took things easy even if the country already has automatic qualification being a cohost, electing to prepare hard and play even harder just to please this cage-crazed nation every time.

Off big win

With a 6-3 slate, Gilas is looking to leave nothing to chance against the Falcons, who are set to be led by naturalized player Dar Tucker and spitfire guard Freddie Ibrahim.

After steering the Filipinos to an impressive 107-96 conquest of Lebanon three nights ago, Reyes will be tapping young Kevin Quiambao to replace Calvin Oftana in the final roster for the Jordanians as coaching staff continues to tinker with its pool to find out who plays best with whom for the main showcase in August.

In gunning for a fifth straight win, Reyes has practically played with a different lineup each time.

With Quiambao, Gilas beefs up its front line and bolsters its playmaking ability which should test the 5-4 Jordanians, who are set to field nearly the same crew it used in their losing stand to the Philippines, 74-66, back in November.

There will be a notable absentee, though, as Jordan left the 6-foot-11 Ahmad Al Dwairi, who finished with 18 points in the previous encounter, at home. Al Dwairi has been the team’s top rebounder and its second-most efficient player thus far.

For SEAG, Asiad

A victory by Gilas should help Reyes and the cage leaders turn the squad’s shaky start into a distant thing of the past.

But more importantly, it should also serve as a foundational piece for its thrust of continued development geared toward the global showcase and other international competitions such as the Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in Cambodia and the Asiad (Asian Games) in China.

“We want to have a core group of guys who are familiar with each other, who understand the system, and then put in a few guys here and there and then take a look, perhaps in the final iteration of the roster come August. Hopefully, we’ll have the best team, not the best collection of individual talents, but the best team,” Reyes said in a previous interview. INQ

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