For the second straight game, Philippine national men’s basketball coach Chot Reyes rested Marcus Douthit.
But the rest of the SMART-Gilas Pilipinas crew picked up the slack, defeating the Super City Rangers on Tuesday, 95-77.
The 6-foot-10 Douthit missed his second straight game, but his absence against the Rangers was hardly felt. He also sat out the Philippines’ loss to the Wellington Saints on Tuesday.
Reyes noted, however, that the final score was not an indication of the tough challenge encounter by the Philippine team.
“The Rangers are a second division team, but they played us hard,” wrote Reyes in a text message to InterAKTV. “We just broke it open in the fourth period.”
For the coach, the win was a fitting buildup to the team’s matchup against the Tall Blacks, the 18th-ranked national team in the FIBA World Rankings. The Kiwis convened on Monday to begin two-day tryouts for the final 12 spots.
Part of Reyes’ plan was to rest Douthit, who is expected to come out after dealing with nagging back problems.
“We rested Marcus for tomorrow’s game against the Tall Blacks, but this win is going to be a good preparation against them,” said Reyes.
Despite playing in Auckland, Gilas played as if it had homecourt advantage as Filipino fans in the area came out in full force. Reyes and the rest of the team were overwhelmed by the adulation given by expatriate countrymen.
“We played in a smaller gym, but packed with fans just as loud as Wellington,” said Reyes.