Gilas Pilipinas will have to immediately hit the ground running as they take on a tough Canada-3D Global Sports squad in the first game of their 2017 Jones Cup campaign.
The Canadian squad is a mix of players that have competed in the NCAA, the National Basketball League of Canada (NBL) and even in the NBA. As such, Gilas will have their work cut out for them as they face a Canadian squad that is filled with athletes who have height and strength.
“We have recruited and gathered some of the best Canadian players in the country,” Teddy Tochev, president and director of 3D Canada shared. “We are very excited to participate in the William Jones Cup with our 3D Canada program and we look forward to building long lasting relationships of professionalism and high level competition.”
Canada will be led by U Sports MVP and 5-time championship winner Connor Wood. The 6’6 Wood will be Canada’s point guard in the tournament, who has competed in China as well. He will also be flanked by Joey Haywood, who has competed in NBL-Canada making it to the finals with the Halifax Hurricanes. He’s also popular in streetball circuits, known as “King Handles.”
Their frontcourt will be an imposing presence as well, led by Michale Kyser. Standing 6’10 and playing power forward, Kyser has spent time in the summer league teams of the Toronto Raptors and New Orleans Pelicans before playing in the D-League with the affiliate teams of the Raptors and Utah Jazz. He is a Conference USA and WAC All-Defensive Team member.
Other players with NBA D-League experience on the squad are Dallin Bachynski (Rio Grand Rapids) and Garrett Williamson (Austin Spurs & Tulsa 66ers). This squad obviously won’t be lacking in experience as well, with players like Diego Kapelan and Dwayne Smith, who have played in leagues in Argentina, Colombia, Spain, Germany and Greece.
The team was also supposed to have Royce White in their lineup. White was the 16th overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, who has become a fixture in the NBL-Canada league after his NBA career didn’t pan out. Unfortunately, he dropped out from the lineup a few days before the start of the Jones Cup tournament.
The team will be led by Kyle Julius, a veteran of the NBL-Canada who was also a former player on the Canadian national team.
The size and strength advantage is one thing that Canada will be banking on against Gilas, which is why the team is preparing for ways to counter it.
“We worked on defending the bigs,” Gilas assistant coach Jong Uichico shared. “Now it’s a good test for us scheming against size because they’ll have the size advantage. It’s good that we’ll try to see if we can take advantage of our quickness against size.”
“We aim to provide entertaining basketball for the fans of Taipei and high class basketball competition for the opposing nations of the William Jones Cup,” Tochev shared.
Gilas Pilipinas begins their road to defending the Jones Cup championship when they take on Canada-3D Global Sports on July 15, which will be televised at 3PM on TV5.