[PHOTO AT LEFT - Powerade-RP Team’s Gabe Norwood tries a shot against behemoth Ha Seung Jin and Joo Heejung (9) of Korea. TIANJIN]

MANILA, AUGUST 10, 2009 (PHILIPPINE STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Despite Powerade Team Pilipinas’ setback to South Korea, coach Yeng Guiao remains confident of the team’s chances against Chinese Taipei today as it resumes its quest for a berth in the knockout phase of the 25th FIBA Asia Championship here.

With Aguilar back in harness, Guiao is particularly optimistic they can get off to a winning start against the Taiwanese in the kickoff of the second phase of the elimination round.

The Nationals and the Taiwanese, runners-up to the Koreans and the Iranians in their respective groups in the initial round, collide at 4 p.m. at the Tianjin Gym inside the sprawling Tianjin Olympic Center.

RP and Chinese Taipei are in Group E with Korea, Iran, Japan and Kuwait, carrying over their records in the first round. The top four after this round advance to the knockout stage versus the top four from Group F composed of China, Jordan, Qatar, Lebanon, Kazakhstan and UAE.

“We need to win at least two in our next three games to make it to the next round outright and prevent the scenario where we might play China as last placer in Group E. I think that’s doable. If we can make it three, then much better,” said Guiao.

“It’s only now that we’re getting used to the calls and the situations (of international play). I’m encouraged by the results of our first games including the one we lost to Korea. We played better defense against them than against the Japanese. Our only problem there was that we couldn’t shoot,” Guiao said.

“I’m confident our shooters are going to improve their shooting percentage. And if we can sustain the defensive effort we put up against Korea, then we’ll be okay against Chinese Taipei,” he said.

The Taiwanese beat the Filipinos in their recent Jones Cup encounter and Guiao thinks their rivals have further improved in the ongoing tournament.

Still, he believes they can get the job done and even things up with the Taiwanese with a complete, healthy roster.

Aguilar, sidelined by a strained knee in their last two games, is set to return to action.

“I think the Chinese Taipei team here is stronger than the one we played in the Jones Cup. But if they have their improvements, I think we have better improvements,” said Guiao.

“We’ve learned a lot and made a lot of adjustments. We’ve been better in our last two games,” Guiao added.

The Nationals made it to the second round with victories over the Sri Lankans and the Japanese while the Taiwanese advanced on wins over the Kuwaitis and the Uzbeks.

“They inserted three new guys. We know that they can shoot the trey and they have a good transition game. But I believe we can match up with them,” Guiao said.

Powerade RP took a 77-86 beating from Chinese Taipei in the Jones Cup with hotshot Tien Lei torching the Filipinos with six three-pointers, the last capping a decisive endgame run.

But Tien will be a marked man today and Guiao is thinking of putting Jared Dillinger on him.

Tien has been the Taiwanese’ main man here, leading their challenge in a four-point losing stand against the Iranians.

“They play like Korea. But the Taiwanese are softer than the Koreans,” said assistant coach Rhoel Nadurata.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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