No rest for travel weary Nationals
OTHER than the cold Kazakhstan weather, Team Pilipinas has to make do with the long travel from Doha, Qatar to the capital of Astana for its final outing in the FIBA World Cup qualifiers Sunday night.
The morning after whipping the Qataris, 84-46, to remain very much alive in their bid for a berth in the World Cup, the Filipinos took an early flight for a fivehour trip to Istanbul, Turkey where they will have their connecting flight to Kazakhstan.
"Mabigat kasi walang direct flight so kailangan pa naming magpunta sa Turkey," noted coach Yeng Guiao.
"Darating kami (sa Kazakhstan) madaling araw (Saturday). And then sa gabi practice namin and sa umaga. Tapos game na (sa gabi). Ganun katindi."
And then there's the freezing weather.
Team Pilipinas will be welcomed by an -11 degrees Celsius weather by the time it arrives in the Kazakhstan capital all the way to the game itself at the Saryarka Sports Complex.
Unlike in Doha where the team arrived at least five days before its game against the Qataris, this time it only has two days of stay in Astana before it goes up opposite the home squad.
"Yun ang mas mahirap yung dalawang araw na wala kang acclimatization. So we'll see what happens," said Guiao.
"But physically and mentally, I think they are ready and tough enough to play in such an extreme condition."
Assistant coaches Sandy Arespacochaga and Ford Arao, who went ahead of the Filipinos in Kazakhstan, however believes the team can thrive under the cold weather.
The two deputies watched the game between Kazakhstan and Australia Thursday night, which the Boomers won, 81-60.
"Wal a namang problema sa hotel, wala namang problema sa venue. Kagabi (Thursday) mainit naman (sa venue). Hindi ko nakikitang magiging problem yung cold weather sa mga players natin," sai d Ar espacochaga.
One minor concern though is weather the host will have the heater on once the Filipinos practice inside the gym.
"Pero wala akong nakikitang problema natin dahil nga sa venue kapag nakapasok ka na, mainit na. Ang problema lang talaga kung matagal kang nasa labas," Arespacochaga said.
The Filipinos are looking to win their last outing in the qualifiers to have a fair good chance of earning back a berth in this year's World Cup in China.
Kazakhstan though stunned the Philippines in their last meeting, 9288, on Nov. 30 at the Smart Araneta Col i seum.( RG)