MANILA — In an upcoming showdown between Gilas Pilipinas and the Dominican Republic, Dominican Republic coach Nestor Garcia anticipates a substantial turnout of Filipino supporters at the Philippine Arena on Friday.

Consequently, he underscores the utmost importance for his team, despite holding a higher rank than the Philippines, to maintain their concentration and commitment to their gameplay.

Garcia expressed, “A multitude of spectators will grace the match. In this nation, basketball enjoys fervent adoration, and the team receives resolute backing.”

This sentiment was shared during the introductory press conference held by FIBA, a day prior to the Dominican Republic’s face-off against Gilas Pilipinas. Eloy Vargas, the team captain, was also present at the press conference.

Vargas stated, “We are eagerly anticipating tomorrow’s commencement. The local team, Gilas, commands great respect. It has been widely acknowledged that we will compete before a sizable assembly of their fans.”

Anticipations are centered around Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns as the driving force of the Dominican Republic’s offensive strategy. Nevertheless, Victor Liz, Gervis Solano, and Eloy Vargas are equally determined to give their all. The Dominican Republic holds the 23rd rank in FIBA’s list.

Leading the charge for Gilas, holding the 40th rank, is former NBA Sixth Man, Jordan Clarkson. His efforts will receive support from Kai Sotto and Scottie Thompson, in addition to players like June Mar Fajardo, AJ Edu, and Dwight Ramos.

Garcia noted, “We are aware of the Filipinos’ proficiency as sharpshooters. Their performance escalates when on home turf.”

Transitioning from World Cup friendlies, Gilas’ attention now pivots towards the Dominican Republic.

“However, our focus remains unwavering. Strong performance transcends location,” Garcia affirmed.

When questioned about their upcoming matches against Italy and Angola, the Dominican coach expressed a preference for focusing solely on Gilas for the present moment.

Garcia elaborated, “We are proceeding incrementally. Our present focus is directed at the Philippines. Italy and Angola can be contemplated subsequently.”

Meanwhile, Vargas eagerly anticipates the matchup against Clarkson.

“Clarkson and I were G-League teammates. I am well aware of his prowess as a shooter. Nevertheless, I hold confidence in our team’s ability to effectively contain him,” Vargas concluded. (AI/MNM)