No rest for travel weary Na­tion­als

Sun.Star Pampanga - - ENTERTAINMENT! -

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)

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