February 21 ------ WITH a final lineup in place, Gilas Pilipinas is totally focused on its debut in the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers, careful not to take Indonesia lightly when the Southeast Asian neighbors clash on Sunday in Jakarta. Gilas coach Mark Dickel and his coaching staff have put together a youthful 12-man side for the match against Indonesia, which he expects to be a tough customer even without naturalized player Lester Prosper. “I expect it to be a close game, a difficult game," said Dickel following the team's penultimate day of practice at the Meralco Gym before leaving for Indonesia. "But it will be really good for us. I feel like the last couple of weeks of practice, we made huge strides. Sunday is a chance to prove that." Prosper's absence won't change much, he said.
“I’m going to rush home and watch the game tonight,” said Dickel, referring to Indonesia’s match against Korea on Thursday night. “I’ll believe that when I see it. But obviously, that changes things for us a little bit as far as how we prepare. Ultimately, they got more than enough to give us trouble out there.” “Obviously, not having [Prosper] there helps us but we are still going to play the game,” said Dickel.
Fans, for sure, expect the Philippines to beat Indonesia by a wide margin. But more than anything else, Dickel is focused on seeing Gilas play the right way. “I’ll just be really happy if we play a good game. The result should take care of itself,” he said. Dickel already has an idea of how Indonesia plays under Coach Rajko Toroman, having studied the team during the 2019 Southeast Asian Games.