INCHEON, South Korea—Members of the Philippine delegation’s most celebrated team—Gilas Pilipinas—arrived for the 17th Asian Games almost hitch free on Saturday night, a day after Typhoon Mario wrought havoc in Luzon and Metro Manila and caused jitters to the World Cup veteran’s smooth flight to this bustling industrial city close to the capital Seoul.
Philippine delegation officials said Gilas’s Philippine Airlines flight from Manila was expected to touch down at 9 p.m. (10 p.m. in Manila).
Apprehensions for Gilas having to rebook its flight reared on Friday after assistant coach Aboy Castro couldn’t catch a plane for home. He had in his possession all of the 12 team members’ passports which he presented during the team managers and technical meeting on Thursday night where naturalized player Marcus Douthit and Jimmy Alapag’s inclusion on the team were guaranteed.
While Gilas made its way to Incheon, assistant coaches Jong Uichico, Tad Baldwin and Josh Reyes did their scouting chores, not only on Kazakhstan but on possible off-competition hassles the team may encounter.
Reyes and company inspected the route from the Athletes’ Village to Hwaseong Sports Complex, noting of delays on the road that may cause trouble to the Filipino dribblers.
The basketball qualifying round started on Saturday with the Kazakhs routing Saudi Arabia, 89-59, and India blasting Palestine, 89-49, in Group B and Mongolia defeating Hongkong, 86-77, and Kuwait winning by a mile over the Maldives, 116-44, in Group A.
The Philippines and Iran drew byes in Group B with the Filipinos expecting to open their Asian Games campaign against Kazakhstan on Tuesday.